Supporting the seniors in your family or your community might seem like a daunting task when you first think about it, but it’s very straightforward. The following will explore some of the things that you can do to support the seniors in your life. Of course, every person is different and, therefore, every person is comfortable with varying levels of support. Make sure to read the room and ask if you are unsure about something you’re doing.
1. Spend quality time with them
Nothing beats a deep conversation with a friend. Spending quality time with seniors is one of the easiest ways to offer support. As a bonus, you’ll be introduced to an entirely new world view that was built from a long life’s worth of experiences – there are some fascinating stories to be heard, if only you listen and ask a few questions.
Studies have shown that loneliness is just as lethal as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day! Quality time spent with seniors is one of the best ways to help combat the brutality of loneliness. If coronavirus is stopping you from being able to do this, consider gifting a device with screen calling options. If that’s not something the seniors you know are interested in, a long phone call will also serve.
2. Do what you can to maintain independence
Independence feels good no matter what age you are. Experts suggest focusing on the bathroom first when making these tweaks as privacy and autonomy when it comes to the use of that room are highly valued among all people. Sometimes something as simple as an anti-slip mat, raised seats, or a new toilet seat can help seniors maintain independence for years to come. There are countless products on the market and tweaks that can be made to homes to ensure seniors maintain as much independence as possible.
3. Interacting with people of different ages
It’s not just quality time with you or people their age that’s important; it’s quality time with children and infants as well. Not only will the experience of stepping away from a screen and spending time with someone older and wiser benefit your children, but consistently, studies are finding that time with children is good for people’s mental and emotional well-being. Studies are even being conducted on a long list of benefits that occur when daycare facilities are integrated into retirement homes or communities. Children get tons of high-quality one-on-one attention, and seniors find fulfilment and purpose caring for little ones.
4. Introduce them to new things
Art, music, books, films, and television shows are all part of our culture. But sometimes, people can get a little lost in keeping up with what’s going on. Share your favourite recent movies or books with the seniors in your life. Chances are, if you got lost in the magic of a great story, they would be too. Often seniors are not as digitally connected and so might not know about all the things that have come out recently. Studies have shown that engaging in the arts increases your quality of life and also increases your life expectancy. Art is a beautiful thing, and everyone should be able to enjoy it.
5. But don’t push new things they don’t want on them
Yes, you know the convenience of modern technology. You know how handy it is. This doesn’t mean there aren’t drawbacks, and someone who has lived the majority of their life without mobile phones and the internet might want to keep it that way. Not everyone wants their life overtaken by technology, and that’s completely okay.
Besides, they might be onto something. As it turns out, taking time away from our screens can be incredibly beneficial to our mental states. Ensure that you’re allowing the seniors in your life the boundaries they want to keep in place.
6. Ask them what they need
This one seems simple, but you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked. If you’re unsure what to do to help out the seniors in your family or community, ask them what they need. All you have to do is listen. You might be surprised.
With the above tips kept in mind, you are well on your way to offering as much support and encouragement as possible to the seniors in your life. Be sure to take all the necessary precautions suggested by doctors given the current coronavirus situation and never encourage a senior to do something that makes them uncomfortable. Likewise, you don’t need to do anything that makes you uncomfortable either.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg.
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