One hundred years ago, women held quilting parties. Of course, Great Grandma was too ladylike to call it “Stitch N’ Bitch” (that came in the latter part of the 20th century).
For G.G. and her neighbors, piecing a bed quilt was a big tedious job. Sharing the work made it go faster. Plus it was a lot more fun. Often women were isolated on their farms, and G.G. could discuss her joys and worries with other women at the quilting bee. So the visits were as important as the quilting. The same is true today. Companionship matters.
Loneliness can lead to depression, poor nutrition, and more.
When Mom or Dad spends a lot of time alone, she or he can get depressed. Then it becomes too much trouble to fix a proper meal and eating it alone is, well, lonely. Snacking and not-so-nutritious frozen dinners are easier. So Dad’s diet may not be good for his heart disease. Or Mom may not be controlling her diabetes as well as she should.
Similarly, Mom might think, “Why bother to get dressed, comb my hair and put on makeup, when no one’s going to see me?” So she may be more lax about hygiene. Dad may say, “Going to Rotary/golf/church just isn’t worth it.”
If one of your parents is housebound most days because he or she no longer drives, isolation can set in, and with it, depression and poor nutrition.
Sometimes all it takes is company.
Maybe a neighbor or someone from Mom’s church can drive her to her favorite activities. Or if that’s not practical, you can take advantage of companion services. Several times a week (more or less—it’s up to your parent), a companion can play a game of cards with Dad or drive Mom to her quilting group or keep her company while she pots a few begonias.
Companions can also assist Mom with planning her meals, preparing a grocery list, and clipping coupons. Dad can get help with organizing mail or a woodworking project. Companions can share whatever activities your parent wants to do—from addressing holiday cards or baking—to going for a walk or watching a movie. Having company makes these activities more fun. Conversation and companionship are the point, not the activity.
And who knows? Maybe Dad will build you a bird feeder. Or Mom will make a baby quilt for your niece.