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Try to Keep Life Interesting For Homebound Senior Citizens

Today, more seniors are using the computer to occupy their time on the Internet and communicate with family by e-mail.

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Seniors who find themselves confined to home and unable to do the things they have always loved are at increased risk of depression. A variety of resources can help, from computers to companionship.

Q. My 79-year-old mother broke her leg and can’t get out for a while to visit her friends. She’s becoming more depressed. What can I do to help?

The key to helping your mother is to try to find ways to keep her life interesting. Why not start by getting your mom a computer? Even though they didn’t grow up with computers, statistics reveal that more seniors are using the computer to occupy their time on the Internet and communicate with family by e-mail.

Research released by the Phoenix Center has discovered that Internet use eases depression by 20 percent in older adults.

Connecting online will undoubtedly help your mom feel less isolated. She could exchange news with family by e-mail, and play games like bridge and bingo by logging onto the Internet. If you’re not able to help her get set up, contact a friend or family member to assist.

If the computer is not an option, enlist a grandchild or other young relative or friend to spend a few hours each week writing letters for your mother or reading to her from a favorite book of poetry or the Bible.

There’s no substitute for human interaction and companionship. Why not organize a coffee, lunch or tea for your mom and some of her friends? Or have a family theme week, where you decorate for a special occasion and serve a different dish each day that ties into the theme.

And don’t give up on trying to get your mom out and about. If she’s willing, and the doctor agrees, go for it. If she can’t walk, take your mom for short jaunts around the block in a wheelchair, out to lunch or to visit the farmer’s market on a pleasant summer day.

If you’re a busy working mom yourself and don’t have time to do some of these things for your own mother, why not arrange for a professional caregiver? The local Home Instead® office hires men and women, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, who could help keep your mom company during the long days of her recuperation.

A Home Instead CAREGiverSM, for instance, not only can be a friend to your mom, but will also help around the house, providing such services as light housekeeping, meal preparation, errands and shopping. That way, when you are with your mom, you’ll be spending quality time.

For more information about the Phoenix study visit

Last revised: July 19, 2011

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