Sitting mom or dad in front of the television can have the same effect as plopping a two-year-old in front of the cartoon channel. A whole aspect of a child’s development and a senior’s health depends on socialization and interaction. Many caregivers feel they are doing the right thing by keeping mom and dad at home. They love their parents and want the best for them, however the long list of responsibilities and obligations of in-home care can be daunting. Making time for spouses, children, work and household chores by delivering round-the-clock access to situation comedies, reality shows, sports, movies or 24/7 news channels can affect psychological health. As our elderly age, lose the ability to drive, are uprooted from a home and community they love or suffer health issues, become immobile or homebound and social isolationism develops.
Hours of sitting alone in front of a television directly affects mood, emotions, behavior and thinking. TV programs generating anger, anxiety, unhappiness or scaremongering affect how they interpret events in their own lives. Television’s negative sensationalism can trigger fear of their situation, of health problems, of incontinence, of becoming a burden. Long hours in front of a television set are as unhealthy as long hours alone staring into space. Older adolescents, teens and adults enjoy time away from the “rat race”. Time to relax, gather thoughts, make plans and solve problems. There is a big difference in finally getting some time alone and experiencing isolation. Caregiving extends beyond providing basic needs. Caring for a mom or dad [in your home] who can no longer care for themselves is comparable to caring for a toddler or very young child; psychological, emotional and spiritual needs must be meet.
Social ties, inclusion and interaction can preserve mental health in the elderly. Researchers have found elderly who engage with others have fewer health problems, fewer colds, and less incidents of heart disease, stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Senior Day Care and Senior Centers are more popular today than ever before. A wide array of diverse activities is available to seniors at all levels of care. Unlike extended and assisted living facilities, these entities offer positive physical, emotional and social activities – most at a reasonable cost.
As the weather warms and days grow longer, investing in Senior Day Care or dropping mom, dad or grandparents off at a Senior Center is good for them and for you, the caregiver. Need help deciding what’s best for the family member you are caring for? We can help. Call us to learn more.