A few years ago, my dad retired from his job. At first, things went well, but recently, I've noticed that quitting his job has led to lots of negatives for him and our family. Since my mom is still working, my dad just stays home alone during the daytime, with no social interaction. Since my parents are immigrants, they don't have very many friends here in the first place. So most of the time, my dad only talks to our immediate family. Because of this, I think my dad's English is getting worse, and he's also losing his sense of basic social courtesy and mannerisms.
I've also noticed that my dad's temperament is also getting worse these days - oftentimes he has bursts of anger at my little brother for no reason. In general, he's in worse of a mood now than he was before.
I think that it would be helpful to my dad and to our family if he went out more, and to be blunt; if he had a life. I know he doesn't want to work again, and he also doesn't have very many hobbies. Do you have any suggestions for what he can do during the day? Or how he can improve he temper? We've tried talking to him about it, but he's extremely stubborn, and he only gets angrier when we mention it :(
So my parents did volunteer work at a local regional hospital for the next 20 years, and they enjoyed every minute. Hospitals have a variety of volunteer needs, and not all require interaction with patients. My parents worked the front information desk.
UniStudent, depending on your Dad's first language, hospitals are always in need of interpreters.
I'll try and float a few of these ideas to him, and see how things go from there. Hopefully he'll find an activity he enjoys :)
jeannegibbs - thanks for the checkup suggestion - it actually hadn't crossed my mind at all.
1. ESL classes could help him with his English and he'd meet other people of different backgrounds.
2. Research to determine if there are any groups or churches of your father's ethnicity. Research as well to determine if there are any enclaves of people with his ethnic background. Then find out if they have any group or social activities, if they have any need for volunteer work, etc. I would think he'd feel more comfortable with people of similar ethnicity, especially if his English isn't conversational.
3. Also check to see if there are any groups that need volunteer help which doesn't require a great deal of verbal proficiency. Groups that pass out food, such as Forgotten Harvest, need volunteers. Soup kitchens need volunteers; Meals on Wheels need volunteers to pack the lunches and deliver them to shut-ins.
Helping others might allow him to see that he still has a lot of life left to live for and he can help others who are worse off than he is.
4. Libraries and senior centers have activities; libraries are more likely to have free musical activities.
But none of these may appeal to him and he may just want to sit around the house, in which case, you can't force him to be social, but you don't have to be around when he's in a bad mood.
But maybe these two things are only related by age and are basically coincidental. Possibly the decline is due to medical reasons. Especially the bursts of anger concern me. Many of us retire and are at loose ends for a while. But I don't think anger is necessarily a part of that.
I suggest you observe him closely for a while and note any behavior that is "odd." Forgetfulness, inability to find the right word, excessive daytime sleepiness, not sleeping through the night, lack of social skills (that he had before), etc. Now all of these things COULD be from his lack of social interaction. But they could have medical cause, too, and it would be a shame to miss that because of the coincidental timing.
I think it is time for Dad to have a complete physical examination. And I think it would be good for you to send the list you compile about his decline to the doctor ahead of the appointment.
Your father's happiness is not your responsibility. But if you can encourage him to take good care of himself, including medical check-ups, I think that would be a good service.
I used to be like you, worrying about FIL being happy and unhappy, being mentally stimulated, getting exercise, etc. but after too many months of worrying, I realized it was a waste of my time and only made me angry when he did nothing all day or week long and waited until the weekends to socialize with my husband and me. We did that for a few years until their neighbor told me that my inlaws declined an invitation to lunch because they weren't sure if my husband and I were going to take them out instead. I couldn't believe my ears and it was exactly what I needed to get over myself, stop trying to fix my FIL, and let him figure it out for himself. The only person who can help your father get a life (and stick with it) is your father. My FIL has involved himself in one thing - swimming - twice a week. It's a start. But looking back on it, I think pushing him to engage and take advantage of all the new activities his independent living has to offer only made him more resistant. So we pulled back and family dynamics have improved. Is FIL the happiest man alive? No way, but he's not driving MIL crazy anymore (that we know of).