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Information about the author of this post.
tlwe223's picture Terri Weber, MSW, CSW
Elder Care Specialist
College or Department
Work-Life and Well-Being
Phone Number
(859) 218-0457
Email Address

Caring for an older loved one can become tedious, monotonous and dull. And the everyday mundane tasks can take a toll on a caregiver’s emotional, mental and physical health. Boredom can make you feel sad, tired, hopeless and irritable. These can be caused by a decrease in mental stimulation or a lack of control over your daily life. Boredom is a warning sign, telling us that something is wrong.

The problem is that a set daily routine is important for seniors as they age, especially those with memory issues. A daily routine reduces our older loved one’s stress and anxiety, allowing them to feel safe and secure. But that same routine leaves us feeling stuck and unable to do the things that fulfill our own wants and needs. We feel numb, empty and bored. This creates an interesting dichotomy: your need for fulfillment vs. your loved one’s need for routine and security.
How can we provide the continuity our loved ones need while taking the monotony out of our day and bringing joy back into our lives?

Change it up

Vary the way you do the small day-to-day things. Grocery shop at a store you’ve never been to. Get outside and take a walk (if you can’t leave your loved one alone, just step outside and breathe in some fresh air). If you are running errands, take a new route. Instead of watching TV, read a book, do a jigsaw puzzle or find a video for a yoga stretch.

Meditation brings about self-awareness. The idea is to silence your thoughts, increasing your awareness in the outside world. The goal of meditation is not to think but to simply observe your thoughts, without judgement. By paying attention to what is happening in your mind and body, you can learn more about yourself and your patterns of behavior.

The Five-Senses Meditation, which can be done almost anywhere, helps you notice what you are experiencing at that moment. You consciously focus, one at a time, on what you hear, see, feel/touch, taste, and smell. See “A Meditation for Exploring Your Senses" by Cara Bradley for more information.
Listen to music

Explore different genres. Make playlists of the songs that always make you smile and lift your mood or relax and soothe you. Music can have a profound effect on our mood and how we are feeling. It decreases anxiety, pain, heart rate and blood pressure.
Write down your thoughts and feelings

Journaling is a safe and cathartic way to release the stresses of the day. Keeping a daily journal is more about the process of writing than it is about the final product; the process allows you to let go of your fears and worries. It gets those negative thoughts out of your head and down on paper.
Practice gratitude

Psychologist Martin Seligman suggests taking time each day to acknowledge the things you are grateful for. It doesn’t have to be fancy or involved; just think of one to three simple statements a day such as, “I’m grateful for my morning cup of coffee.” “I’m grateful the sun is shining.” “I’m grateful for my friends and family.” By doing this, even during the most difficult times, your gratitude acknowledgment will help keep things in perspective and keep you grounded.
Start an audio and/or video family legacy project

Record your loved one talking about their life and the life of your family. Or work on collecting and preserving family recipes or pictures, making those into a book to share with other family members. Reminiscing has been shown to have many positive effects. It preserves family history. It helps improve the quality of our loved one’s life. It reduces symptoms of depression, promotes physical health, eliminates boredom and enhances self-esteem.

If you want professional assistance, Capsule of Life may be able to help. Virginia has worked with many families over the years to help preserve their legacy.
Consider respite care

Informal respite care can be asking a family member or a friend to be a companion to your loved one for a few hours, so you can get out and do something you enjoy. Formal respite services include in-home care services, facility-based services such as adult day care or overnight/weekend services at an assisted care, personal care or memory care facility. Respite care can give you the break you need from your caregiving responsibilities.

If you feel your boredom and monotony are part of a bigger picture, like depression, talk with one of UK’s free mental health therapists or health coaches.  

  • UK Mental Health Therapists — Employees with a full-time equivalency (FTE) of 0.5 or greater are eligible for five free sessions per fiscal year. This benefit also extends to UK retirees, sponsored dependents, and spouses.
  • UK Health and Wellness Health Coaches — Employees with a full-time equivalency (FTE) of 0.5 or greater are eligible for a one-time consult or up to eight coaching sessions per fiscal year. This benefit also extends to UK retirees, sponsored dependents, and spouses.

Not everyone has the time or money for a weekend getaway or even a meal out, but there are ways to add variety to your life. Finding ways to break up your day-in/day-out routine can help alleviate some of the burden and boredom of being a caregiver.   
Stay well, stay healthy, stay connected,