If you are a family caregiver for a senior loved one, the concept of “fun” may be the furthest thing from your mind. You have a lot of responsibilities, and there is emotional and physical stress associated with caring for a person you love who is becoming increasingly dependent upon you.

Fun is not going to come on its own; you need to find it.

How do you do that? Like the 1940’s hit says, we must “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch onto the affirmative.”

With that in mind, let’s look at some ways to have more fun caregiving.

Accentuate the Positive

Regardless of age, everyone loves to laugh. Renting a funny movie or watching a comedy on TV with your senior loved one is a great way to spend quality time and have a little fun caregiving. Or maybe read a book together by a favorite humorist. Laughter releases endorphins that reduce stress hormones.

You personally will benefit from a few minutes of fun and relaxation each day. Try taking a short walk or sitting outside on the patio and focusing on the nice breeze. Do something to take your mind off all of the things that you have to accomplish. You might also find your loved one would enjoy some of these moments with you. Enjoyable conversations are more likely to happen when you are both relaxed. And regardless of your senior’s physical and cognitive condition, there are many things you can do together. Try these ways to have fun caregiving with your senior loved one:

  • Listen to music
  • Flip through a photo album
  • Watch a movie
  • Play a video game
  • Share a hobby
  • Complete a jigsaw puzzle
  • Celebrate holidays
  • Cook and share recipes

Eliminate the Negative

You can’t have fun if you are depressed, frustrated and frayed, so you need some strategies to overcome those feelings.

Above all, avoid self-criticism. You are doing your best and, sometimes, you will make mistakes. Do not keep thinking about all of your shortcomings (many of which we tend to exaggerate in our minds). Think about the things you have done well for your senior loved one, and things that you like about yourself. Negativity feeds on itself. Break the cycle!


If your senior loved one has dementia, your stress may be multiplied by watching the disease take its toll. There are still some ways, however, to help make the best of the situation.

Do not worry when they make a mistake or cannot recall information they have just received. It only drives up the frustration and stress levels for both of you. If Dad believes he just bought a new car when he hasn’t driven in years, what’s the harm in letting him talk about it?

Offer comfort and listen carefully. Your loved one is still trying to communicate with you, so let the conversation run where it will. Sometimes your loved one will recall a clear memory, something poignant to share, or even something to laugh about. Listen to their stories and tell some of your own. These moments will be a treasure you will always remember.

Michele Kimball, RN, Corporate Director of Clinical Services at Bethesda, suggests focusing on the following tips when caregiving for a loved one with dementia:

  • Try to enjoy the moment and not spend too much time thinking about what the future holds.
  • Avoid criticism or negative comments.
  • Praise, encourage, and celebrate successes.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Assist with establishing a daily routine but know that there will be days that things won’t go as expected.
  • Allow your senior time to do activities and let them enjoy their ability to do so.
  • Support your loved one (and yourself!) even when mistakes are made.

Latch Onto the Affirmative

Make sure you are taking care of you. Your mental and emotional well-being are positively affected by eating food that is good for you and exercising. Maybe you no longer have an hour to spend at the gym. Instead, climb some stairs in the house, work out with bodyweight exercises, and take three five-minute walks during the day if possible. Keep moving and keep eating well. You’ll sleep better and feel better about yourself.

When the stress mounts, talk to a trusted friend. He or she may not be able to offer any advice, but just talking about your worries can provide a release, and may make you more aware of what you are feeling. In addition, sometimes a friend can supply a perspective of which you are not aware. Also, a friend or relative may be able to give you a break and watch Mom or Dad for a while, allowing you to run some errands or do something just for yourself.

As a caregiver, it is easy to get trapped in the details—the medications to be dispensed, meals to be fixed, bills to be paid, doctor’s appointments to attend . The list seems endless, but slowing down enough to focus on the present moment and enjoy what it has to offer can make all the difference.

As a senior caregiver, you might need some extra support. Explore convenient care options like Respite Care for a temporary break, or Care Management to make sure your senior loved one is receiving the best care possibleContact us to learn how these programs can help you manage your duties and have more fun caregiving.