I remember, during the last years of my husbands life, having a lump in my throat when I would think about what it had been like to have a little fun, in the old days. I couldn’t tell anyone I was starving for a life. That would really have brought on the tears, and what good would that have done? I was in it to do the best job anybody could possibly do for someone they loved and this was part of it. Suck it up.
The thought of going to a movie and being a little carefree, maybe having some dinner with a friend seemed so far from possible that I really didn’t think of it. Most of my family wasn’t close by and I needed to be home in the evenings, there was a lot to be done at that hour. What I did do was meet a friend for coffee for an hour, maybe once a month, on a Monday or Wednesday morning when my help was there from 8:30 to 11:30 AM. I could run to the grocery store, bank or drug store and wrap that around coffee. I really enjoyed those mornings out. My friends had no idea how much that time meant to me. On Sundays, when our grandson was with him from noon to 5 PM I would run errands, shop and eat a meal out (what a treat). Most friends aren’t available on Sunday. They have families of their own to be with so I was alone; much better than nothing, believe me. Everyone should have a grandson like ours.
When I ask Caregivers what they would consider really fun right now, it’s amazing how simple it would be to bring them great pleasure. People tend to assume they can’t arrange things or they aren’t available. Not every caregiver is off limits for social activity all the time. Families could get creative and take turns seeing that a Caregiver has some fun and really be doing something great.
What is fun? For me, fun is when you share food and conversation with other people. I remember a couple of neighbors on my street having jewelry or tupperware parties during my “confinement”. I was able to leave the house for twenty minutes at a time then, so I or someone else checked on my husband periodically while he was listening to TV (he was blind), and I could drink my coffee and chat. People can be wonderful if they just know what they can do. Caregivers tell me that if a friend would come and visit or invite them over for a glass of wine or a beer and conversation with other adults, that would be great. To go to a movie or a play would be a huge treat. Two family members or friends might arrange the care sitting and night out. If you get a few friends together and go to the Caregiver’s place for coffee, that would be an easy diversion. How about a poker night at the Caregiver’s place? Suggest it or something similar?!
When my husband was still able to go out in a wheel chair, our next door neighbor, a truly kind man, would take him and two other elderly men from the neighborhood out to lunch. They would all chip in and really enjoy their time together on Tuesdays. That gave me some cherished time, too.
I hope I’ve sparked an idea or two for my readers. We’re all going to be in a position of needing the generosity of other people at some time in our lives. Let your creativity shine and you’ll be prepared to let others know what you need when your time comes.