Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Ideas or suggestions to keep our sz loved ones occupied

Just curious, what do your sz loved ones who do not work do to occupy their time? I’m sure there will be many parallels, but just trying to get some additional ideas. Thank you in advance

Judging from what I’ve seen on the DX forum, I’d say video games, watching TV, YouTube and movies, Internet surfing/social media, music and pets seemed prominent. Some read books and write and do art. Some have a bit of social interaction and shop. Some go to school. Budgets are limited, and many aren’t always keen to go outside of the house as it can be stressful.

Myself, I think pets are very therapeutic and I’m fond of making and listening to music and participating in theatre.

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My son is 25 and lives with me and his older brother. About 18 months since his last episode, for which he was hospitalized for 1 month. Med compliant again. After about 6 to 8 months from discharge he regained more ability to do things and he now accesses the internet on his phone or laptop. Watches TV: sports and talk shows mainly. Sleeps. Smokes cigarettes. Very caring of pet cat. Accompanies family members to the grocery store. Anxious in social situations so does not go to movies or the gym. Sometimes to a restaurant. He does chores and cooks once a week (from scratch!). He is slowly working on a spreadsheet for the household budget.

Keeping him occupied with anything relatively productive is typically transactional. So, to pay for his cigs he cooks dinner once a week, including looking up recipes, going to the grocery store, cooking. To pay for his video game he is learning Excel and will ultimately be responsible for budgetting.

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@amysfo, that is so wonderful! My son is far from doing everything your son is doing, but he is better than he was a year ago when he was hospitalized for 2 weeks. He goes food shopping, drives, goes to the mall on his own, reads, takes daily walks etc. He still hates video games and tv, so a lot of activities are eliminated right there.

I would love for him to start cooking on his own, but when he comes over, he usually navigates to the kitchen where I am most of the time, and helps me cook. And I noticed he watches me very carefully. It’s a start. Thank you for the response!

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@mbheart you are fortunate that he enjoys outside activities, I was trying to find a balance between reporting the more common activities and avoiding some less positive ones like smoking and sleeping. I think it’s great he doesn’t care for TV or video games, as going outside the home opens opportunities for social interactions.

I remember, I too liked to go on walks, drives and trips to the mall on my own in my early recovery. I remember this initially caused my mother some anxiety, as she somehow thought if I did these things on my own, I might alarm people and they might call the police. These fears were unfounded.

I think exercise and anything that stimulates the brain and learning like reading can be helpful for recovery. If you can add a social element that’s good too. Leveraging existing interests is a good way of doing this. So maybe word games like crossword puzzles and word searches would appeal to your son, or playing cards or board games. I know I took various classes like pottery, acting, guitar and voice. Some of these were individual and some in small groups. Maybe a cooking class might appeal to your son. If social anxiety is a problem, a one on one class or tutoring might be helpful. I found I craved formal learning the ‘right way’ over picking things up on my own. I think gradual increases in social contact can be helpful. I know I would get a bit overwhelmed by the complexities of social situations, but with persistence I became desensitized to this and eventually gained confidence.

One thing I didn’t mention was the mental health clubhouse system. I didn’t go to one, but I heard positive mention of them in the forum and at mental health conferences. I met a young lady at a concert or play I was in who worked at one, she may have noticed some subtle signs of my illness and brought it up, I’m not sure. I was in ‘girl chasing’ mode at the time, so I’m surprised I didn’t follow up and visit as she was on the cute and engaging side. Sometimes you don’t want your whole life to be about your illness, but it’s nice to be in situations where you don’t have to worry as much about stigma and can talk and share. I used to go to NAMI meetings with my parents and occasionally went to mental health conferences, but I got out that habit as I branched out into other things.

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Thankfully my son never took up cigarettes or used drugs, these things were never a concern.

There was a time, before he got sick, he was glued to the tv and video games. Now he seems to be extremely anti social media and the internet in general, so sometimes I wonder how he fills his day.

And I also get anxiety about him driving, but it’s something he really seems to enjoy, so I don’t want to inhibit that. Funny you mention board games. We introduced that into our weekly family night about a year ago after his release from the hospital, once he became stabilized. He enjoys Monopoly and most card games. I think he truly enjoys that small timeframe of interaction.

I just wish and hope he would join an activity group via the clubhouse. His psychiatrist will casually bring it up at his visits. He refuses to go. Every time I bring it up he just tells me to “worry about your own life”. So I gave up asking.

I read somewhere from someone with sz that sometimes “alone time” is needed initially as a prelude to recovery, and is not necessarily a bad thing. I hope eventually he would want to mingle a bit.

Thank you for all of your ideas and advice.

My son lives in an independent living group home and engages with the other residents (socializes). He takes long daily walks (exercise). At my home, he takes care of the plants in the house and on the patio (responsibility). He also reads a lot of articles on internet, watches videos and TV (time alone).

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My daughter is in a prodromal stage right now after reducing her medication for some time. She has stopped going to uni last month. One of the activities I encouraged her is volunteering and she seemed to enjoy the last one she went. It took almost an entire day, lots of appreciative feedback on her effort, no pressure, and free food :-). There are websites that help people connect on the type of volunteering work and location so hopefully she will pick up a few more. There are other activities like clubbing that put my daughter at risk so I am hoping to move her away from them. With increased medication, she seems to understand her situation so fingers crossed.

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Volunteering at an animal shelter has been great for my daughter. She doesn’t have the confidence to go alone and she doesn’t like going anywhere without me, but this is helping to build her confidence and self esteem.

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