Older people are disproportionately at risk for depression and loss of interest in life. Many times, triggers include the loss of a spouse, aches and pains, or decreased independence and mobility. It’s essential to check in on the older adults in your life regularly.
Human beings are complex, and the elderly are no exception. They have emotional needs as well as physical ones. Here are some ways you can help provide emotional support to an ageing loved one.
It’s common for seniors to experience loneliness and isolation. They may not be able to get around on their own anymore, or they may have lost friends. It’s not good for anyone to be alone all the time. Include elderly loved ones in family functions and celebratory events to keep them connected.
If you can, plan weekly or biweekly visits. Even if you simply sit and have a cup of tea, it will be something for your ageing relative to look forward to and enjoy. You can also bring them to community functions and church services. Feeling like part of a community has a positive effect on overall mental wellbeing.
Visit them wherever they are
Often, seniors have to transition from living at home to an assisted living facility. This experience can be emotionally painful as it represents a loss of independence and control. Plus, it’s always hard to leave behind a home with happy memories.
Help make the transition easier by visiting your loved one in their new environment. Help create new happy memories there and let them know they are not alone. Many Michigan adult foster care homes actively strive to recreate the warm experience of a family home.
Make mental exercise fun
Mental stimulation can help improve cognitive function, keeping seniors’ brains sharp. After people retire, they often perform fewer activities that help stimulate their minds. Your older relative may not take kindly to you enforcing a strict schedule of brain workouts, so try making it a fun activity instead.
Challenge your loved one to a game of chess or other logic game. Play a game of cards together. Ask them to tell you a story or help you write a letter to a friend. There are ways to make mental exercise an enjoyable bonding experience.
Let them know they are needed
No matter how old we get, we like to feel useful. Your ageing loved one may feel like a burden to you or as if they add no value to your life. Make sure they know this isn’t the case.
Ask them for help with tasks within their abilities. They could help you pick out a new paint colour for your kitchen or make grocery lists. If they show resistance to doing chores, ask them to accompany you to an event or on an errand.
Show interest in their hobbies
Retirement is a great time to pick up a new hobby or spend more time on an old one. If your senior doesn’t have a hobby, find one you can do together. If they already have a hobby, ask them about it whenever you see them.
Hobbies give our lives purpose, which many older adults crave. If your loved one has recently moved to an assisted living facility, hobbies can be a fulfilling way to introduce a sense of normalcy back into their lives.
Getting older presents many challenges, but a senior’s quality of life can be improved by having loved ones who care about them. A bit of effort goes a long way in making your aging loved one’s day a little brighter.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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