The feeling of boredom doesn’t typically sound pleasant at any age. People’s minds like to be preoccupied, but when there isn’t any stimulation around them to pay attention to, it often causes boredom. The feelings that boredom bring on aren’t often threatening to the health of younger people, but that begins to change as they enter their senior years.
“Bored to death” isn’t just a dramatic saying. Boredom in seniors can actually bring on dangerous complications in their mental health and general wellbeing. With July being Anti-Boredom Month, it’s the perfect time to learn about the boredom that your senior loved ones may be experiencing, and how to prevent boredom in seniors.
Boredom After Retirement
One thing that many people look forward to is the idea of retirement. When you reach the age of retirement, it’s extremely exciting to suddenly have an extra eight hours of free time every single day to have well deserved rest and relaxation after decades of working. Unfortunately, retirement is often not what is expected to be or hoped for.
Jobs take up a lot of time, and it’s easy as people get older, to allow hobbies and connections outside of work to fall by the wayside. After a few weeks of experiencing constant rest and relaxation, it starts to become apparent that they now have an extra eight hours per day that they have the responsibility to occupy themselves. Without their hobbies and friends to lean on, the calming rest begins to turn into restlessness.
The routine that a senior has had to rely on and become comfortable in is suddenly gone. For many people, their job ensures socialization and the feelings of contributing to the good of society. When this experience ends, it can lead to feelings of worthlessness and isolation, eventually causing depression and anxiety. The mental health issues that are exacerbated by boredom greatly contribute to an increased risk of suicide in men over the age of 85.
Mental health issues aren’t the only risk factor in extended time periods with continuous feelings of boredom. Studies show that boredom can even lead to physical issues, like heart attacks and stroke, and potentially extending as far as cognitive decline due to lack of brain stimulation.
Preventing Boredom in Seniors
If your senior loved one has long ago lost touch with their hobbies and friendships, retirement is a whole new world for them. They aren’t sure what’s around the next corner, which could actually be quite exciting.
When feelings of boredom surface, that means that it’s time to start experimenting with new ideas, activities, and situations. This is almost as if re-finding themselves and discovering what they now enjoy that they weren’t aware of.
Re-discovering yourself in your later years of life requires some creative thinking, but it’s a great way to prevent boredom in seniors. Help your senior loved one make a list of all the things that they remember enjoying when they were younger, things that they have always wanted to try, and activities that are available to them. It’s best to also include a goal with each idea so that they can also have something to strive towards. This can include a range of ideas:
- Drawing/Painting with the goal of creating a landscape piece, family portrait, or abstract creation
- Running/Walking with the goal of completing a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or full marathon
- Online games with the goal of becoming an online master of chess, checkers, jigsaw puzzles, or words with friends
- Puzzles with the goal of completing a 10,000 piecer or the hardest puzzle known to man
- Book clubs with the goal of reading 100 books or writing a book
- Social events with the goal of making two great friends, gaining new experiences, or discovering something new about themselves.
- Ride a train with the goal of visiting each surrounding city or every state in America
Make the list as long as you can and think outside of the box. There are many different activities that people can partake in at older ages to prevent boredom in seniors that can be done alone or with others.
Consider Assisted Living or In-Home Care
Sometimes, your senior loved ones can begin experiencing feelings of boredom but need a little extra support due to declining cognitive function or mobility issues. If this is the case, there are still options to prevent boredom in seniors. Assisted living and in-home care are great for many seniors and include services to stay involved and socialized.
At Reflections Management & Care, we offer a range of in-home care options, from medication management to care management. We also provide relocation management in the event that assisted living is the best option. Regardless of your senior love one’s situation, we offer services to aid in any way that we can to prevent boredom in seniors.