Limited mobility does not equate to a limited life. People with varying degrees of mobility and ability are fully capable of living rich meaningful lives well into their old age. Similar to all ages and stages of life, activities may look different. As well, each person will find meaning in their unique way, so discussing their aspirations and ability-level is important when co-constructing a schedule that sets them up for success. Key points during discussions around new hobbies and interests should be to support them in their goals and finding creative solutions if a goal is initially inaccessible to them.
Reading is a wonderful way to enrich their daily lives and can bring dynamic stories and far off lands right to their favourite living room chair. However, some seniors may have difficulty with eyesight or the fine motor skills necessary for using a paperback book. Some creative solutions include- getting an e-reader which can be navigated with the touch of a finger, borrowing CD audiobooks from the library, or purchasing audiobooks online to enjoy from the comfort of anywhere they want to listen to their favourite stories.
If you and your senior loved ones were active members of your community, or wish to get more involved, then getting connected with local or online charitable programs can be a meaningful way to make a difference in your local community. It also provides a deeper purpose to your elderly loved one’s life. You can contact local charities, schools, medical clinics and spiritual organizations to match your loved one with a project they can contribute to.
Getting involved in your neighbourhood can also be an effective way of building more connections and friendships. Having a thriving social life can bring joy, companionship and reduce stress. Especially since seniors are at increased risk of isolation and depression. Having frequent visitors, especially those with children or pets, can be a fun and dynamic way of spending an afternoon within their accessible space.
While nature and the outdoors can be difficult terrain to navigate, finding a senior-friendly park or mobility device-accessible trail can increase their vitamin D intake, decrease mental illness symptoms and provide effective exercise to boost muscle condition. Even if your loved one is predominantly in their wheelchair, sunshine, fresh air and a change of scenery can boost morale and decrease boredom.
Exercising regularly is critical to maintaining long term health and wellness. Consult your elderly loved one’s doctor or physiotherapist to develop an exercise routine that is accessible and fun for them to do every day. There are many options available including seated exercise, chair yoga, water aerobics and tai-chi. Finding a variety of exercises can spice up their daily routine and work their muscles in different ways which are useful for strength, flexibility and conditioning.
If your elderly loved one is an artist at heart, then getting creative maybe their favourite route. Crafting and learning new creative skills can strengthen the brain, and assist in improving cognition, memory retention and critical thinking. As well, whether your loved one enjoys music, sculpting, writing poetry or painting, crafting activities improve both fine and gross motor skills. Those who participated in creative activities state that they have decreased negative emotions and increased positive mindsets.
You and your elderly loved one know their circumstances the best, thus it is important for you to collaborate on which activities they would enjoy. As well, be sure to set up expectations for how you or a personal care worker can support their goals. Setting achievable goals can boost self-esteem and mental wellness in seniors. Limited mobility can be an accessibility challenge, but it does not need to limit your life. Seniors with limited mobility are deserving of enriching activities and thriving social lives, and a personal care worker can support their transition into this new phase of their life.