Many of these activities and strategies are good for women too, but they’re especially effective with men. I hope this short list of activities sheds some light on your caregiving. Please consider sharing your own ideas.
– Overall, It’s important to appeal to a man’s enormous need for independence. When you are ready to do an activity, avoid suggesting one option to them; give them several options to choose from. Asking them simple questions is generally better than telling them your opinions.
– Men love to tell their stories, so I listen carefully…and consider helping them develop those stories in tangible forms (written down, scrapbooks, or even painted). Military and family episodes work well as topics. Do research on the Internet or library to find out more, especially photos and anecdotes. Help them share these accounts with other family members or friends. Build files that can be appreciated over time.
– Many older folks have a waning interest in the daily paper or current events, but try to interest them in the big stories and the issues surrounding them. Co-compose a letter to their governmental representative to help them feel like their opinions still matter.
– Track the stock market every so often, even if they don’t have investments. Talk about shifts in business activity and strategies.(Of course, avoid public policy, especially if your politics do not agree.) If they have strong personal opinions that agitate them, gently redirect them to a safer topic.
– Watch a ball game on TV or a favorite game show or movie in an interactive way. Talk about what you’re watching. Discuss themes, historical contexts, and memories or emotions. Watch the TV in short bursts, so they don’t lose interest and zone out.
– Solve puzzles and play board or card games together. Men like problem solving. Give hints if they can’t come up with answers to clues. Help them appreciate that they’re accomplishing something, whether they’ve finished the puzzle/game or not.
– Music is a great medium. Play it a lot, either as a focused activity or in the background. The Pandora app allows you to play “drop the needle” by finding songs, singers and genres that they love. Connect your smart phone into their stereo system, if they need to hear better. Look up lyrics on the web, then read them aloud.
– With a smart phone, you can also connect to the Internet almost anywhere, and further explore discussion topics and trivia. There are some great humor sites related to various themes like national holidays.
– When these activities seem too much, just talk with them. Listen more than talk; question more than answer. Find a setting for your conversation, like a park bench near a playground. Silence and rest periods are important for absorbing what you’ve been doing.
Age at HomeCare, a registry home health company, is owned and managed by Davis Allen, former Exec. Dir. of Sarah Care Adult Day Center. He has an MA in Human Resource Development and is a Certified Nurse Assistant. He continues to work as a companion caregiver with his own clients. All of his associates have previous direct care experience so they are attuned to the needs of their clients and families.
Resources for the Family Caregiver
Davis Allen, Owner