Among the many hats we wear as an unpaid carer, “entertainment provider” is one that perhaps doesn’t get much air time. But indeed, we are often responsible for keeping the person we care for entertained, mentally stimulated, fulfilled and hopefully happy.
It’s important to acknowledge that while this may sound fluffy and possibly even fun - it can also be draining and difficult. Especially if we’ve been doing it for a long time. Or we’re caring for someone whose disability or illness makes engagement with activities more challenging.
During holiday periods, support services may close or reduce their hours. So there may be certain times of year, where we find ourselves doing even more.
So how are we keeping the person we care for entertained? We opened this question up in our Facebook community, and below are top tips shared by carers. We hope there is some inspiration for you there. And remember - you’re doing a great job! If you have any other tips to share, please let us know and we’ll add them - so other carers can benefit from your great idea too.
1. Puzzle books and magazines
If they’re able to do so, then puzzle books and magazines are a great way to keep the person we care for entertained. They engage minds in ‘problem solving’ rather than passive viewing (such as with the TV). There are many benefits of puzzles for our brain. Meaning that having fun can also bring other benefits too, such as exercising our brain and improving our memories.
Puzzles may offer a nice distraction from social media scrolling, where we can find ourselves doomscrolling and making ourselves feel worse.
2. A stretch or a fun physical exercise
As well as keeping our minds entertained, we can do the same with our bodies.
Of course, this doesn’t have to mean intense physical activity. It can be a relaxing guided stretching tutorial on YouTube that we do together with the person we care for. Or it can be going for a short stroll in our neighbourhood, taking in the fresh breeze and the beauties of nature.
It’s also a great opportunity for us to get our steps in for the day. 😉
For some people, maybe physical activity looks like a massage or a kitchen disco to favourite tunes.
“We struggle to entertain our daughter, but she does love music and movement. So sometimes after dinner we crank up Nirvana for her and have a little kitchen disco. It makes us feel good too.”
Lots of condition specific charities run online exercise classes, tailored specifically to the condition the person we care for has. For example, Age UK has a directory, where we can find out what exercise classes they are running in our own area or online. While Power for Parkinsons has heaps of online videos for physical activity ideas.
3. Getting lost in arts and crafts
From scrapbooking with any old magazines or catalogues we may have laying around the house, to following a painting tutorial, or taking on a DIY project with the person we care for. There are many ways to get lost in creativity.
If art and being creative feels like a lot of work, then there are many ways we can make art more accessible and inspire ourselves to give it a go. Here’s six ways we can make ‘getting arty’ easier for ourselves.
4. Baking, cooking or designing an awesome snack!
Cooking together can be a great way to entertain the person we care for. If they’re unable to take part with the practical parts, then we can still fill some time in a positive way. How about being chief taster or in charge of the kitchen soundtrack on spotify. Or what about sitting down together to plan meals or create recipes?