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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

For Caregiver Activity Ideas See This Study - Wall Street Journal Says Mentally Engaging Activities Rate Higher for Satisfaction - TV Ranks Low

A cluster of activities that includes "engaging social and spiritual activities...visiting friends, exercising, going to church, listening to music, fishing, reading a book, or going to a cafe or party" ranked highest for providing the type of mental engagement that resulted in being happiest and least stressed. Caregivers who are trying to design fulfilling activities for themselves and those whom they care for can get useful tips from the article at the Wall Street Journal , April 2, 2008, under "Getting Going" by Jonathan Clements. The article explained that 4,000 Americans were asked to rate activities based on pain, happiness, stress and sadness.

The researchers defined satisfaction versus "feeling unpleasant" as related to your disposition, your life circumstance (including health, age, finances, status) and "how you spend your time." This last aspect, the way you spend your time, can involve choices and you have a "fair amount of control" over it.

Low income earners, women, and those with low education were more likely to be spending a larger portion of time in an unpleasant state. Being able to have choices increased satisfaction, not surprisingly.

Watching television, considered to be not very mentally engaging, was described by the study's authors as "neutral downtime." However, the study showed that people have actually increased the amount of time they spend watching TV, when they found they had more time available for activities. The time people spend in more mentally stimulating and engrossing activities, which would be more rewarding, has declined.

I believe this study shows that whether we are caregivers, care-recipients, or involved in other life endeavors, we can improve our satisfaction in life by choosing mentally stimulating, engrossing, mentally engaging activity over TV.

Continuous life-long learning is available now with distance courses and internet courses. One can continue self-educational growth by getting books for free from the library or going to free classes, or one can start any number of new projects that require learning.

When health issues interfere with some activities there can still be hobbies that provide mental engagement. As a caregiver I have gotten some of my clients started in the past with activities such as container gardens, painting sun-catchers for the windows, arts and crafts, music, writing, indoor board games, attending church socials and dinners, attending senior center activities, and baking treats to take as gifts to neighbors and friends.

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