People in hospice care, usually the elderly, are typically approaching the end of their lives. As such, their loved ones may be feeling anticipatory grief, which keeps them farther instead of closer to them. But we must understand that it’s impossibly difficult to spend time with a dying loved one, knowing that you can’t do anything about it.
But terminally ill seniors deserve to enjoy the remaining days of life. We can’t just leave them under the care of a skilled and experienced hospice nurse and expect our loved ones to feel happy. As much as nurses, doctors, and caregivers help improve a dying elderly’s quality of life, they don’t replace family and friends.
Hence, try to be strong for your dying loved one, and show them that you’re with them until the end. Besides, they can still enjoy a few hobbies, even with their frail bodies and limited mobility. Next time you spend time together, consider assisting them in any of the following activities:
Seniors probably find it strange how young people are always glued to their phones. Back in their day, they read books to entertain themselves. So indulge them in nostalgia by picking up a good book and reading to them.
If you’ve read or watched Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook”, you would realize how much impact reading can leave on an elder. The story might’ve been fiction, but the effects of reading it had shown certainly wasn’t. Reading or listening to an audio book can improve a senior’s memory, reduce their stress, improve their sleep, and slow down their cognitive decline. Even if they are already nearing the end of their life, stories can still engage them.
2. Journal Writing
A dying senior would love to leave a legacy, however little. Thus, immortalize their memories by letting them write on a journal. You might even discover untold stories about your family because of it. Add photos, pressed petals, or any other small memento in the journal as well. When your loved one has gone, a piece of their soul will stay with the journal and the little mementos forever.
3. Low-impact Activities
Activities that don’t require a lot of movement, like container or indoor gardening, knitting, or bird-watching are perfect for ill seniors. It allows them to learn something new and keep their senses engaged. You can even teach them how to play a musical instrument if their mobility still permits it. If not, then they can simply enjoy watching you play.
Gardening, in particular, has several benefits for seniors. It low-key exercises their bodies, puts their motor skills to use, reduces their stress, and stimulates an appreciation for the outdoors and nature.
However, note a number of health considerations before letting an elder engage in gardening. Their fragile skin is more susceptible to injury, making them more sensitive to harsh sunlight and other safety hazards. Their deteriorating vision might be a problem as well, so guide them thoroughly. Other factors that may also affect their gardening experience are mental health problems (e.g. dementia) and skeletal weakness. For those reasons, perform the necessary adjustments to make them enjoy gardening.
To make the activity more meaningful to a dying elder, help them create a memory garden. If you don’t have enough room, you can simply grow a single tree or flower. When the time of the elder’s passing has come, you will always remember them each time you see and tend to the garden you created together.
4. Slow Exercises
As long as they aren’t bed-ridden yet, elders can still do some exercises. Introduce them to chair yoga or any other seated exercise routines. They can even do some standing workouts using their walkers to aid in their balance.
Keeping the elder active reduces the swelling on their bodies due to staying immobile. It may also reduce their stress, just like us when we break a sweat.
5. Pet Care
Elders, especially those who live alone, tend to lose their sense of purpose. So by giving them a pet, you can renew their lost sense of purpose, and provide them a companion that brings happiness and unconditional love. Your loved one may no longer be around for long to watch their pet grow, but the short time they’d spend together will be fulfilling and rewarding enough for both them. But before handing over a pet to an elder, ask their doctor for approval first. Some seniors may be too frail or ill to care for a pet.
6. Fun With Family and Relatives
As their days grow shorter, gather your family and relatives around them. Nothing will make them feel more loved and appreciated than being close to people they love.
It’s truly sad to think that you’re engaging an elderly loved one in these hobbies to make their last days meaningful. But they want you to be strong and happy, even after they leave this earth. So give them the gift of your smile, and know that they’ll pass on grateful for everything you’ve done.