This article is republished as part of a content partnership between Talk Your Heart Out (SG) and Homage (SG).

‚ÄúAging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.‚ÄĚ – Betty Freidan

As we get older, our interests and pursuits may change. Our social circle also tends to become smaller. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps us combat loneliness and social isolation ‚Äď the 2 factors which can negatively impact¬†our physical and¬†mental health. This is especially important as the number of suicides among Singaporeans aged 60 and above has been on the rise and hit and all time high in 2021.¬†

If you are looking for ideas to engage the elderly in your family or community, or yourself, look no further! Here is a list of fun activities across 6 different categories you can start checking off: Arts and Crafts, Culture, Nature, Music, Fitness, and Cause-related activities.

Together with your loved ones, participate in these activities that you can do both in- and out-of-home to boost your health and happiness.

Recreational Activities

Arts are a good way to engage the elderly in fun and hands-on activity.

Arts and Crafts

It is common knowledge that art benefits both the creator and the viewer. In fact, studies have shown that Singaporean seniors who are engaged with the arts tend to enjoy a better quality of life and experience a greater sense of holistic wellbeing. Suitable for the young and old, getting creative together is great for intergenerational bonding too! Here’s how you can engage the elderly with the Arts:

Get creative at home

Stock up on some colour pencils, paintbrushes, and colouring books from your nearest bookstore and have some therapeutic fun while colouring and painting! Add a hint of nostalgia with batik painting kits or DIY lanterns from e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Qoo10. 

Start an upcycling project

Get creative while saving the earth. Instead of disposing of plastic bottles and used jars, turn them into useful pieces in your home garden or festive decorations! Get inspired by organisations such as Terra SG. 

Sign up for an art workshop

Get hands-on with art. There are several different types of art workshops for seniors that you can choose from. Organisations such as Solace and Artisan Han’s also offer various art therapy programmes. Solace Art Psychotherapy, in particular, consists of registered art therapists who are experienced in working with seniors with dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other medical conditions. From canvas painting and calligraphy to pottery and knitting, there will definitely be one which appeals to your loved one. 

Attend art festivals

For those who appreciate art, take part in themed art festivals happening on our sunny island. With events such as the Silver Arts Festival organised by National Arts Council and A Date with Friends held at the Esplanade annually, immerse in music, dance and film from the past till present.

Culture

Did you know that reminiscence can improve cognitive function and behaviour? Taking a trip down memory lane through interactions with places and objects is also a great way to engage the elderly.

Play old school games

Go back in time as you and your loved ones engage in a nostalgic game of 5 stones, pick up sticks, as well as traditional games like the Chinese Chess and Congkak available here. For a local twist, check out games from Hua Hee and KYDZ. Many of these brain-stimulating games can also be found on popular gaming consoles and free online platforms like Solitaired.

SilverActivities¬†has also created¬†SilverPad, a¬†senior-friendly tablet where the elderly can independently watch shows, play music, and stay engaged with their custom-built cognitive games. They also provide free¬†digital games¬†and¬†printable activities¬†for seniors. The best part is ‚Äď all of these are available in our local languages!¬†
Besides having fun, playing games can engage our minds, boost and maintain our cognitive functions, and keep conditions such as dementia at bay.

Stroll along Monument Trail

Learn and reminisce about Singapore‚Äôs heritage as you start the¬†trail¬†from the mouth of the Singapore River which is once the heart of Singapore‚Äôs commercial activity and entrep√īt trade. Along the way, be greeted by iconic landmarks that tell the story of Singapore, before ending at the War Memorial Park.¬†

Visit Singapore’s museums

Did you know that Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs) can get free entry to more than 8 museums in Singapore? Catch a glimpse of the past as you go museum-hopping with your loved ones!

Nature

Besides being a mood-booster, exposure to green spaces has been proven to lower our risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. Engage the elderly through nature in our garden city with these activities:

Engaging the elderly through gardening and exposure to greenery may uplift their mood.

Pick up gardening

Gardening can bring a host of health benefits by keeping us physically active, giving us a sense of purpose and improving our mental wellbeing. Encourage your loved one to pick up gardening at home, or better yet, turn it into a social activity and participate in community gardens in the neighbourhood. You can also have your very own farm-to-table by growing edible plants at home. 

Spend some time with nature

Need a whiff of fresh air? Venture out of home for a walk on these senior-friendly nature trails and take some time to appreciate the wonders of nature. 

Participate in nature workshops

From floral arrangement to DIY terrariums, there is something for everyone. For a truly local experience, sign up for a nature workshop by homegrown Edible Garden City. Each session includes a walk around the barrier-free accessible farm in Queenstown, followed by light exercises, before ending with a thematic hands-on activity led by the horticulture therapy-trained educators.

Music

We are no stranger to the magic of music. Besides bringing joy, providing comfort and evoking memories from the past, it also improves physical, cognitive and emotional health.

Music brings joy and comfort, and at times, even evoke nostalgic memories.

Listen to the classics

What better way to engage the elderly than to get them grooving to the classics? It may not be easy to find vinyl and cassette players anymore, but their modern descendants ‚Äď radio and Spotify ‚Äď work just as well. Create or hunt for a¬†playlist¬†and take a trip down memory lane with Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye or the Beatles. Old is gold!¬†

Guess the song

Spice things up with a memory game! Play a tune and try to recall the song‚Äôs title ‚Äď fastest person wins. You can even have your own¬†Music Bingo¬†to play with your loved ones!

Sing-along

Turn up the music and sing your heart out to familiar tunes from the ‚Äė60s! Gather your singing kakis for a¬†karaoke session in your neighbourhood¬†or at¬†Alzheimer‚Äôs Disease Association‚Äôs Memories Cafe.¬†

Learn to play an instrument

Express yourself through rhythm, beats and melodies. Community centres now offer a variety of musical instrument courses for the aspiring musician. Select a musical instrument and attend a class today.

Join a Silent Disco

Throwback to the ‚Äė70s and get grooving with¬†Silent Disco! Have a blast and sweat it out while jamming out to songs from the past with your friends.

Fitness

It is widely known that staying active is beneficial to both our physical and mental health. Here are some fun ways to engage the elderly physically and make exercising more enjoyable and feel less like a chore.

Keep fit at home

Build up your strength, flexibility and endurance to prevent falls and improve your overall wellbeing. Doing simple stretches and bodyweight exercises for just 30 minutes a day, several times a week, can make a difference. Most importantly, find an exercise that’s most suitable for you and that you’re comfortable with. Remember to always listen to your body and stop if you’re experiencing pain. If you would like a more comprehensive and personalised workout session, consider home physiotherapy.

Exercising is a good way to help the elderly stay active and healthy in their community.

Join an exercise group

Working out in a group can boost motivation and make exercising all the more fun! Whether you are looking to sweat it out or simply wish to engage in light exercises, there is something for everyone. Get in touch with online communities such as Team Strong Silver and Gym Tonic, or check out the activities at the active ageing hub closest to your home.

Attend fitness classes

Build up your fitness with a certified trainer by signing up for regular workout classes. Make it a goal to try out as many forms of exercises as possible and find out what you like best! Do remember to inform the instructor of any past injuries. 

Cause-related Activities

If you are looking to stay physically, mentally and socially active in the community, why not do it for a good cause? Here are some activities you can engage the elderly in as you encourage them to contribute back to society.

Start volunteering

Give back to society by volunteering for a cause you believe in. Besides helping others, volunteering is beneficial to ourselves too by helping us stay connected with society and giving us a sense of satisfaction and purpose. Stay up to date on the volunteering opportunities available by joining RSVP or searching online. 

Walk for a cause

Support meaningful causes while staying active by participating in annual events such as Run For Hope. Suitable for all ages, join as a family for an intergenerational day of fun!

Befriend fellow seniors

If you are looking for an activity that can make a direct impact on people’s lives, consider being a befriender with Homage or the various community organisations here. Deliver care to seniors in a variety of settings while earning some extra allowance too.

With the multitude of senior-friendly activities available on our little red dot, there is bound to be something for everyone. Pick an activity from this list and engage your loved ones in meaningful activities today.

This article first appeared on Homage.

Homage is an award-winning personal care solution that provides on-demand holistic home and community-based caregiving and medical services to seniors and adults, allowing them to age and recover with grace, control, and dignity.

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Tags: caregiver burnout, caregiving, self-care

This article is republished as part of a content partnership between Talk Your Heart Out (SG) and Homage (SG).

In simple terms, a caregiver is a person who tends to the needs or concerns of a person with short- or long-term limitations due to illness, injury or disability (John Hopkins Medicine).

While many of us are caregivers to our loved ones, we may not necessarily know how to manage or prevent a caregiver burnout. At times, when work and other daily activities get thrown into the mix of caregiving responsibilities we hold, it is natural that we feel increasingly overwhelmed.

Caregiving can be a long and demanding journey. In fact, 37% of caregivers in Singapore have been providing care to a loved one for over a decade. The stress of caregiving can accumulate over time, and if left unchecked, the physical, emotional and mental exhaustion can lead to burnout.

If you are a caregiver to a loved one, read on to learn some tips to manage or prevent a caregiver burnout!

What Causes Caregiver Burnout?

Family caregivers often put the needs and interests of their loved one ahead of themselves, neglecting their own wellbeing in the process.

Having unrealistic expectations is one reason that may contribute to the stress that caregivers face. Sometimes, caregivers may expect their loved one’s condition or mood to improve from their involvement in the care process. However, this may not be possible for individuals with progressive conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s.

Caregiver stress may also arise from external factors, such as a lack of support or pressure and expectations from family members. Sole caregivers may not have sufficient support for them to take breaks from caregiving. Other family members may also have unrealistic demands and expectations of the primary caregivers which add on to their stress.

Many caregivers also have to juggle multiple commitments and responsibilities on top of caregiving. Working caregivers may not be able to care for their loved ones especially during their shift, while the sandwich generation has to take care of both their children and parents at the same time.

What Are the Signs of Caregiver Burnout?

There are many signs of caregiver burnout. If you are unsure about what you are experiencing, look out for some of these signs here.

Oftentimes, caregivers are so focused on the wellbeing of their loved ones that they don’t notice that it’s taking a toll on their own health. Here are some signs and symptoms that may indicate that you are experiencing caregiver stress or burnout:

  • Increased anxiety, depression, irritability and impatience
  • Lack of energy or constantly feeling exhausted, even after sleeping or taking a break
  • Neglecting your responsibilities and needs
  • Falling sick more often than before
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite and/or weight
  • Feeling overwhelmed, helpless or hopeless
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and other loved ones
  • Feel like your life revolves around caregiving, but it gives you little satisfaction
  • Constantly worrying and find it hard to relax even when help is available
  • Feelings of wanting to hurt yourself or the person for whom you are caring

How Do You Prevent Caregiver Burnout?

Learning to manage or prevent caregiver burnout is not always easy. However, caring for your own wellbeing is necessary to ensure that you are better able to care for your loved ones.

Besides taking a toll on our health, caregiver burnout also affects the quality of care that our loved one receives. Here are some tips that can help us prevent burnout or recover from one, be motivated to deliver care, and make caregiving a fulfilling experience again:

1. Prioritise

Caregivers have a never-ending to-do list that’s impossible to complete. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed if you try to complete everything at one go. Instead, try to break down your tasks into smaller, actionable steps, prioritise them according to urgency and need, and establish a daily routine. 

2. Set Realistic Expectations

We often put a lot of pressure on ourselves as a caregiver to try to give our loved one the best care possible. However, it’s important to keep in mind that no one is a perfect caregiver. Remind yourself that you’re always doing the best you can and making the best decision possible at that point in time, and that is enough.

Sometimes, we expect to see visible changes in our loved one’s condition, feeling disheartened when it doesn’t improve. However, in some cases, there’s only a slim chance of improvement, especially if your loved one has a progressive condition such as Alzheimer’s. Managing your expectations can help to reduce the emotional toll of caregiving. 

3. Embrace and Accept Your Role as a Caregiver

When faced with your loved one’s illness and/or the added responsibility of caregiving, you may feel that it’s unfair. While it’s important to recognise that your feelings are valid, it can be helpful to accept that some things are beyond your control. One may want to adjust one’s mindset instead.

Perhaps becoming a caregiver has allowed you to set a good example for your children or improved your relationship with your loved one. Accept your role as a caregiver and focus your energy on the positive and meaningful aspects of caregiving to keep you going.

4. Get the Appreciation You Need

Feeling appreciated can motivate us in difficult times. However, our loved ones may not always be able to feel or show their appreciation due to their condition. It might help to imagine how they would respond if they were well and remind yourself that they would show their appreciation if they could. Turning to family and friends for support and validation may help as well.

5. Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

Don’t downplay the time and effort you put into caregiving. Give yourself a pat on the back and find ways to acknowledge and reward yourself. You could even come up with a list of how you’ve made a difference and refer to it every time you feel disheartened.

6. Join a Caregiver Support Group

Being surrounded by people in a similar situation can be comforting. Besides providing validation and emotional support to one another, these individuals can share concrete and actionable strategies to cope with the challenges of caregiving. It’s also a great place to forge meaningful friendships. Here’s a list of caregiver support groups in Singapore that you may consider joining. 

7. Take a Break

For caregivers, breaks are not a luxury, but a necessity. Pamper yourself ‚Äď it could be treating yourself to a massage and spa or even something simple like taking a long relaxing bath. Make time to meet up with friends and do the things you enjoy. Don‚Äôt feel guilty for taking time off for yourself. Taking a break to recharge can help you become a better caregiver. After all, your life should not solely revolve around caregiving, you deserve to enjoy yourself too!¬†

8. Practise Self-Care

It’s important to take care of yourself before taking care of others. As a first step, make sure you have sufficient sleep. Sleep is important in improving our mood, energy, productivity, and ability to handle stress. Eating well can also boost our energy levels and keep us healthy. 

While it can be a dread to exercise when you’re already stressed and tired, it can, however, be a great mood booster and help you stay healthy. Regular exercise can help us feel more energetic as well. Try to aim for 30 minutes a day, breaking it up into shorter sessions if it’s easier.

Going for regular health check-up is another aspect of self-care. While you are busy bringing your loved one to and fro medical appointments, make sure you make time for your own too. 

9. Meditate

Make time for relaxation or meditation into your daily routine to help relieve stress and boost your joy and wellbeing. Practise deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga or mindfulness meditation. Even a few minutes a day can help you feel more composed when things get overwhelming.

10. Reach Out for Help

Shouldering the entire scope of caregiving responsibilities by yourself is bound to lead to burnout. We all need a little help sometimes. Don’t be afraid to reach out for and accept help, be it from family and friends, volunteers or professional care providers.

Home Care Options For Your Loved One in Singapore

Remember that you are not alone in this caregiving journey. Reaching out for help when you need it prevents your stress from escalating into a burnout.

Home care services can help relieve you of your caregiving responsibilities in the short-term so that you can take time off for yourself.

For caregivers who prefer for their loved ones to remain in the comfort and familiarity of home, engaging home care services can be a great option. Qualified nurses and caregivers can support your loved one with activities of daily living, nursing procedures and more. 

When the going gets tough, it can help to remember that you’re not alone. Help is always available. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you need it.

This article first appeared on Homage.

Homage is an award-winning personal care solution that provides on-demand holistic home and community-based caregiving and medical services to seniors and adults, allowing them to age and recover with grace, control, and dignity.

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