We all need friends, someone that we can talk with, someone with whom we can share our innermost thoughts. You and I see our friends daily, but when a shut-in is cut off from their friends, it makes life rather lonely and meaningless. It can lead to depression and self-pity. Encourage family and friends to visit on a regular basis and you will see a marked difference in the attitude of your patient.
Cards and letters are good, but it’s important to stay in touch with the outside world. This can be accomplished by taking the patient out to lunch, to the senior citizen center, to church, shopping or to some community function. If they can’ walk that far, use a wheelchair. Even a trip to the grocery store can lift the spirits of a shut-in.
If they are mobile, encourage them to take part in community activities. Volunteering part of their time can help them stay in touch. It may also lead to a larger circle of friends. Feeling useful is the key to staying happy. We can’t make our loved ones happy---that comes from within---but we can help them on the road to happiness by keeping them busy.
A good way to keep in touch and enjoy is through community functions: craft shows, art exhibits, plays, concerts, and sales. Everyone loves to go to a sale, even when they don’t need anything. If your patient enjoys yard sales, it will excite them to spend a day visiting the local ones.
The senior citizen center in your town is a wonderful place to look for things to do. They will have a daily activity list. Seniors at the center keep busy with trips, volunteering, Meals on Wheels, and just visiting with housebound seniors. They have buses that will pick seniors up and take them to the center for lunch or any of their functions. They have volunteers that will take seniors to the doctor, to the dentist, or shopping. One need never feel alone when the senior citizen center is full of friendly people waiting to help. A special event on the center calendar is dancing. Center members visit with neighboring senior centers, for dances, potlucks, or shows. Some even take trips to Reno or Las Vegas to have a weekend of shows and gambling. A senior need never be housebound unless they are too ill to go out. The other seniors at the center will keep them busy, as busy as they went to be.