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RX For The Caregiver

By Janet Listokin, M.A., C.T.R.S.

(Page 2 of 3)

For any individual to function effectively and efficiently, no matter their profession, but especially for caregivers, they need to be able to include leisure and recreation in their daily lives. Therapeutic recreation, traditionally, has focused on individuals with illnesses and disabling conditions.  However, today’s caregivers, given their responsibilities and those who require their service, need to understand and appreciate the importance of how recreation and leisure can be utilized and benefit their lives.

Leisure is not merely a time spent not working or doing chores.  Rather, leisure can be thought of as a state of mind that results from self-motivated, enjoyable interactions with oneself, one’s environment or with others.  When engaged in leisure activities, the caregiver can focus on the activities in which he learns new skills, improves performance and/or demonstrates competency.  The following are some suggested activities and the benefits, which may be derived from them:

  • Art/Music/Photography – creativity and self-expression

  • Meditation/Yoga/TaiChi – release of stress, sense of harmony

  • Physical exercises – improved health, release of tension

  • Reading/Games – sense of accomplishment, mental stimulation

Depending on the caregiver’s preference, leisure activities can be pursued individually or with friends/family.  Meeting new people during an activity can add to the enjoyment of the experience. 

It is essential that the caregiver breaks the routine of his/her day and commit to an activity of his/her choice.  A daily, weekly or even a monthly commitment will surely benefit the individual.  Here are some steps to get started:

  • Determine what kind of activity would be of most interest. Do you want to try something new? Perhaps, you would like to resume a previous hobby?

  • Research where the activity is offered, cost, frequency, time and refund policy. Check local listings of community centers, colleges, museums, etc. Choose an activity that piqued your interest and one which does not add any additional burden on you.

  • If applicable, arrange for another family member or friend to assume the responsibility for the person you care for in the home during your absence.  Be comfortable turning to others to assist you – you cannot do it alone.  In addition, research community-based programs in which the individual you are caring for may be eligible to attend.  Day habilitation centers, adult day health programs, etc. offer specialized programming for individuals with special needs.  In addition, many after school programs offer inclusive recreational opportunities.


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