This week I have talked with two families who shared their concerns over their parents becoming anxious and depressed. While there are many causes, I have been hearing from more and more families about their loved one's feelings of uselessness.One family shared that dad was upset about the fact he could no longer help his neighbor by driving her to the doctor's office. Helping others is how he defines himself, so not being able to drive any longer is possibly keeping him from feeling useful in life. We have to think outside the box when coming up with ideas for our seniors to feel as though they are contributing. Perhaps he can no longer drive his neighbor, but maybe he could accompany her in a taxi or on a local Access-a-ride, which I am sure she would truly appreciate.
Coincidentally, I am studying for my CSA exam and one of the concepts that has come up is giving seniors the opportunity to contribute and how important this is to their mental health. Fortunately there are many cities across the U.S. that have programs where seniors can volunteer. In Colorado, Volunteers of America has a program that matches seniors to local volunteer opportunities. There are many local chapters across the nation that may have some similar options. A quick search of the web with "Senior Citizens and Volunteering" with your city and state is a great place to start.