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Activities to do with someone in treatment

During treatment it is important to give encouragement and provide a positive focus through words and activities. This helps prevent depression for both the caregivers and the person going through treatment.

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Help protect against depression

Pleasant, satisfying experiences help people cope with illness and treatment. Having fun makes people feel better physically and emotionally. When people regularly do things they enjoy, they keep a positive outlook on life and are less likely to become depressed.

One of the most important things we can do for the person going through treatment is to help that person find a balance between his or her problems and the enjoyable things in life. An important goal for you and the person you are caring for is to arrange as many pleasant, positive experiences as possible even during the time spent in the hospital and clinic.

Persons caring for someone with a serious illness can also become preoccupied with their problems. Remember to do things you enjoy, in order to maintain a positive outlook. Caregivers who think only about the needs and problems of the patient are more likely to become upset and discouraged. By renewing yourself, you are able to keep caring for your loved one. Check out further resources on relief and relaxation or spiritual health.

If the person going through health challenges feels that it is impossible for him or her to have any positive experiences, and, at the same time, is feeling sad and depressed, then it is best to seek professional help.

Provide positive experiences

Make lists of pleasant experiences. Keep these lists and read them over from time to time to remind you and the person going through treatment about the good things in life. Sometimes it helps to think of activities that have been pleasant and enjoyable in the past. Decide what part of the activities the person going through treatment can do now. If doing the activity is possible (such as playing a sport), is there a part he or she can still engage in? Is there a similar activity that she can do? Can he talk about how to do that activity when the treatment is over?

Below are some examples of positive experiences that are important in maintaining good quality of life and in helping prevent depression:

Activities With Other People
  • Talking about sports (etc.) with a friend
  • Shopping with a friend
  • Going to the movies with the family
  • Calling a friend on the phone
  • Playing cards with a friend
  • Playing with children
  • Gossiping with friends
  • Going for a drive with a friend
Activities That Give a Sense of Accomplishment
  • Cooking a meal
  • Engaging in a hobby
  • Solving a crossword puzzle
  • Writing a letter
  • Talking to someone else who needs a friend
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Writing a poem
Activities that Make You Feel Good
  • Watching a favorite movie (funny) or TV program
  • Taking a ride in a scenic area
  • Listening to a favorite kind of music
  • Reading a favorite magazine
  • Taking a walk outside
  • Hugging someone you love
  • Eating a special food
  • Saying a prayer or going to a religious service
  • Playing with a pet

If need be, modify activities

Here are some ideas to modify activities:

  • Shopping with friends—Shop online or look through catalogs
  • Attend live sporting event--Sign up to have face cutout appear at live sporting event
  • Going to a friend's home to play cards—Invite friend to play an App-based card game
  • Spring cleaning—Clean or rearrange your room
  • Mowing the lawn—Arrange with someone to mow the grass for you
  • Sailing—Build a model sailboat
  • Going out to hear music—Watch a virtual concert
  • Go visit relatives from out of town—Go through social media pictures with them or Facetime with them
  • Go to the movie with a friend—Plan a virtual movie with friends
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Do an end-of-day ritual

Set aside a special time each evening when you and the person with a serious illness can talk about the good things that happened that day. Think back over the day and talk about everything that was pleasant. Be sure to include all three categories: 

  • Pleasant things that happened with other people
  • Activities that gave a sense of pride and accomplishment
  • Activities that made you (and the person you care for) feel good
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