What the heck? Invest in Play? When I think of the word “Invest”, I think of a well-researched, thought out plan, weighing the pros and cons, through the lens of my desired goals. Mostly I think in the area of finance. When I think of the word “Play”, I think of free-flow, undefined time, youthful (I like the word goofy!), creative, colorful and of having an unexpected outcome. The outcome is not even the point of play unless of course you are competitive and are playing a sport.
You probably have never examined what transpires when you and your girlfriend get together. Aside from the enjoyment you get spending time together, you probably meet to discuss a few topics important to each of you. You listen and may offer some feedback or anecdotes in the spirit of helping her out. In doing so, you may have heard your own words and thought “Wow! That’s a message I needed to hear myself.” Maybe you saw your friend’s face light up after hearing you and realized it rang true for her too. A happy outcome for both of you. You didn’t anticipate it. You were simply invested in the moment and the outcome just happened.
Let’s bring this concept “invest in play” into a companion visit. It takes time to get to know someone new. Being a good listener and asking questions helps to learn more about the other person. For example, a senior who enjoyed having his hands busy would most likely have plenty of stories to tell about his workshop or being out in the garden. He may complain about physical ailments that prevent his hands from being as busy as he would like. While we talk about his interests and listen to his stories, I watch. I watch to see how he holds his mug of coffee. I watch when we play a game. I notice how he is able to pick up dice. How he follows steps in the game and make decisions and choices. I learn so much during our time together. This is what I call Investing in Play. It is through play- the interacting together in the form of a friendly visit that I learn his capabilities and his challenges. I think of ways to work around the challenges or avoid them all together. Investing in the time to come up with modifications or even other activities that would keep his hands busy and bring back that enjoyment from an earlier time. This is a true investment with no expectation of a certain outcome. Just play. Just time well spent together with the highest enjoyment!