If you are one of the over 40 million family caregivers in the U.S. providing care for an aging parent or relative, chances are you wear several hats including chauffeur, insurance wrangler, cook, housekeeper, pharmacist, nurse, and therapist. The truth is that many seniors struggle with feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression, and it falls to their care network to help them stay positive and seek help.

Everything from hearing loss to mobility impairment can strip a senior of their sense of independence and self-reliance, so finding creative and fun ways to boost their mood is a must. Check out these top ideas:


Give Their Mobility Aid a Makeover
If having to use a cane, walker, or wheelchair has your loved one feeling down in the pits, help them embrace the situation more positively by upgrading their mobility aid with some helpful add-ons. Personalize your wheelchair or your loved one’s with helpful accessories like bags, baskets, and hanging pockets that make toting around personal items easier. Decorate their cane or walker with a bright-colored paint job. Add padded grip covers and cushions for extra comfort or don their cane with a helpful wrist strap.

Volunteer Together
Few things fill the heart quite like helping others. Even if your aging parent isn’t able to get out of the house to help at the food pantry or join the walk-a-thon, they can still make a difference in the lives of others right from home. Online tutoring, making a meal for a local children’s shelter or neighbor in need, joining a local political group to make calls or do neighborhood canvassing, putting together bags of toiletries, water, socks, and snacks for homeless people . . . the ideas are endless. Serving others helps to re-instill a sense of purpose in your loved one’s life and can be just the silver lining they’re looking for.

Video Chat Faraway Friends and Family
Maintaining strong social connections and interacting with other people goes a long way to fighting depression in seniors as well as keeping their minds sharp. It’s not easy to make long trips to see faraway relatives and friends, and talking on the phone isn’t always the clearest experience. Set up a free, live video chat for your loved one instead with services like Skype or Google+ Hangout. You will need a webcam/mic if you don’t already have one installed on your computer, however, it’s super easy to video call someone over Wifi (for free!) and chat with them face to face.

Listen to Music

A growing body of research is pointing to more and more benefits when it comes to the idea of ‘music therapy’. Music has not only been shown to help thwart motor impairment associated with conditions like Parkinson’s disease, but it can also improve mood and help relieve stress. For older adults with dementia, listening to nostalgic music from their younger years may help stimulate stronger memory and cognitive functioning too. Free services like Spotify and Pandora let you create playlists of songs based on genres and artists your loved one enjoys, try them out today!