Question: My mom has been feeling lost ever since my dad passed. I think she misses taking care of him. How can I help her feel more involved?
Answer: It’s wonderful that you are conscious of your mom’s need to feel productive and useful. I’m sure she does miss taking care of him. It is a crucial part of health and happiness to be actively involved in something outside of our own personal care.
Consider asking your mom if she would be willing to volunteer through local organizations that need the expertise that she has acquired throughout her lifetime. For example, ask her if she would consider working with younger generations in personal or career development. Maybe she likes to plan and prepare for events. Maybe she adores animals. Depending on her physical and mental capabilities, most organizations will have an area of business that they would be happy to have her help with.
The benefits of volunteering are exponential. For your mom, having an active role in the community keeps her mind active and busy. She is more likely to meet new friends and become more engaged in life, which in turn lowers the risk of depression, slows overall decline in health, and improves the memory. Most people like to feel needed in some way. Being a volunteer offers that crucial piece of independence, especially for those that are becoming the patient and dependent more and more frequently.
The community benefits greatly, as well. We can never learn too much. With every passing generation, we lose a great deal of wisdom that we will never see again in the same way. It may not always make sense or seem important at the moment, but somewhere down the line, what we learn from our elders settles to the top and helps create moments of much needed clarity. This connection between generations is priceless.
So, whether your mom is in her 60s or 90s, walking or wheelchair bound, if she has the will or desire, I suggest you see about connecting her with an organization that needs her. There are so many ways in which she can help others in the community.
Let me know if you would like any suggestions. I would love to help her find a great fit.
• Stacey Conkle is a longtime East Valley resident and community liaison working closely with seniors and their families during times of transition. Send questions and comments to Stacey@generationsofamerica.org.