By Kristen Heller
Caregiving a much-loved senior is a special calling that brings both joy and sacrifice. Certainly, additional time spent with a loved one as perhaps the years are fading is an opportunity to make memories otherwise not possible. Then again, the constant demands of caring for another and the fear that any lapse of supervision could cause irreparable harm weigh heavily. For many, respite care provides the temporary break one needs, but this is used sparingly.
Fortunately, in most communities, a resource exists that can benefit the senior and the caregiver. If you find yourself burdened by the heavy demands of caregiving, consider taking the time to explore your local senior center.
The Modern Senior Center
It is entirely common for older persons to avoid senior centers due to the stigma associated with them. A frequent misperception? Senior centers resemble a geriatric unit at a hospital or neglected retirement community. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The modern senior center is full of life. They can be thought of less like a destination and more like Grand Central Station. These vibrant locations frequently offer card games, dominos, regular lunches and even travel. From day trips like happy hours and dinner clubs to excursions all over the region, senior centers are for the active, and that’s precisely how they can help both the senior and the caregiver.
Joy for All
All too often, the senior feels guilty for needing their caregiver’s time and energy. And, the senior is typically not able to drive themselves to the senior center for peer interaction. Yet, when the caregiver takes their loved one to a senior center, a whole new world of opportunities can open up.
The senior can interact with their peers, while the caregiver can participate in activities right alongside. In many cases, the caregiver could be a senior themselves, caring for a more elderly parent. The chance for a caregiver in their 60s to participate in a ball game or evening out with their parent in their 80s can be a genuine bonding experience.
Beyond the Senior Center
Caregiving is not always easy, but it can be a deeply rewarding time for caregiver and care receiver alike. Caregivers may also want to explore resources besides their local senior center, which will help them provide the best care possible for their elderly loved one.
Kristen Heller is a passionate writer, teacher, and mother to a wonderful son. When free time presents itself, you can find her tackling her lifelong goal of learning the piano.