10 Ways To Help a Housebound Friend

HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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her nails or bring her a pretty new accessory. Put together a pamper kit of items to give her a lift when she’s alone – for example, a relaxation CD containing sounds of nature, scented candles, fragrant shower gel or body lotion, foot balm or gourmet coffee or tea.


7. Encourage the person to cultivate some solitary pastimes – such as putting together jigsaw puzzles, writing, sketching, or a handcraft – that bring pleasure or fulfillment and enable the person to enjoy his own company.


8. Encourage your friend to get a computer and teach her how to use it. Internet access can help her stay connected to loved ones, keep up with local and world news and gather health-related information, among other things. The person can also take online education courses, play games such as chess and bridge and connect with others in a similar situation through Internet message boards and chat rooms.


9. If mobility issues are preventing the person from getting around in the community, encourage him to rent or buy a walker, electric scooter or wheelchair and help facilitate this acquisition. Help him register with the local accessible transportation service if appropriate.


10. Offer to get information about community resources, such as home healthcare services, friendly visiting programs, shopping services, Meals on Wheels and accessible recreation and leisure programs.

10 WAYS TO HELP A HOUSEBOUND FRIEND

3. Encourage the person to practice self-care by eating nutritiously, exercising (if appropriate), getting adequate rest and seeing her primary physician regularly. Do what you can to help make this happen. For example, bring over a meal or offer to drive her to an appointment.


4. Ask what kind of practical help you can provide. Perhaps it’s dusting and vacuuming, doing laundry or running errands. If your assistance is declined, continue to express your desire to help. Meanwhile, take it upon yourself to deliver a casserole or treat or, if you’re a neighbor, sweep both sidewalks or bring in both sets of garbage cans.


5. Bring a surprise gift, such as a favorite movie, magazine, food treat, fresh flowers or a plant or a gift certificate to a restaurant that has takeout and delivery service. If you’re on a limited income, sign out reading material, movies or music the person would enjoy from the public library.


6. Help a female friend feel good about her appearance. Offer to set her hair or do

LISA M. PETSCHE

Lisa M. Petsche is a social worker and a freelance writer specializing in boomer and senior health matters. She has personal and professional experience with eldercare.

more articles by lisa m. petsche

When someone is confined to home due to convalescence from an illness, recovery from surgery, or chronic illness or disability, his or her world shrinks considerably. It’s easy to become disconnected from others and the world in general.


Unfortunately, family support for seniors in such situations is often limited. Societal trends that include delayed marriage, decreased family size and increased mobility contribute to elder isolation. Even if adult children live nearby, they’re likely to be busy juggling careers and families of their own.


Here are some things you as a friend or relative can do to show support to someone who is homebound and help him or her stay involved in life:


1. Remember you may have to be the one who makes most of the effort in the relationship. Plan to call or visit when you’re not rushed for time. Arrange a regular date to get together, and when you do, treat the person the way you always have.


2. Allow the person to express emotions freely. Illness and disability affect people physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Although there may be similarities, no two people experience their situation the same way. Listen attentively, demonstrate compassion and provide words of encouragement.