Life, as are many things, is often not always about quantity so much as it is about quality. Aging seniors often face losses in the quality of their lives well before they face the end of their days. It’s not enough just to see to their medical needs. We must also see to their mental and emotional needs in order to help them have a positive view of life.
In fact, a positive view of life can help alleviate some of the medical issues that seniors face such as cognitive decline and stress, lack of energy and appetite. Below are five tips you can use to help improve your aging senior’s quality of life.
1. Monitor and treat depression.
Millions of seniors age 65+ are affected by depression. The cause can be a single trigger like losing a spouse, being unable to stay in their own home any longer, or retirement. Medical triggers can come from disease or even medication.
Speak with your doctor and get familiar with the signs of depression. If you notice warning signs, seek medical treatment for your senior.
2. Remind seniors that they are useful and needed.
People of all ages want to feel needed. Being useful is a reinforcement that they are needed. Find ways to make your senior feel useful and needed. A great fear among the elderly is that of becoming a burden. Feeling like a contributing member of the household helps to alleviate that fear. Find ways to make them feel wanted.
Ask seniors for help with tasks appropriate for their abilities. Ask for help to fold laundry (If it’s all folded, sneak to the linen closet, unfold towels, etc., and toss them into a clothes basket). They can clip coupons and make grocery or shopping lists, or tell you the latest stories on the news. Ask for help to prep food for cooking. Ask for company while running errands.
3. Encourage physical activity.
Try to encourage some regular physical activity. Walking, physical therapy exercises, even clapping hands to music all stimulate blood flow, relieve stress and anxiety, and encourage heart health. Exercise also improves the quality of sleep, builds stamina, and can relieve depression.
4. Encourage mental activity.
Everyone needs mental stimulation. Seniors need this type of activity to retain or improve cognitive function and, also, to gain or maintain an overall sense of well-being.
Offer daily “brain games” such as sudoku, crossword puzzles, reading, writing, and storytelling. These are wonderful activities to keep the mind engaged and sharp.
5. Keep them connected.
Seniors can often become isolated and lonely, especially if they are unable to drive or have mobility issues. These seniors are at greater risk for dementia. They also have shorter life spans. Help your aging senior to stay connected to family, friends, and community.
Arrange family visits or outings for your aged adult, especially holidays or days of family celebration like weddings or birthdays. Line up transportation to get them to senior centers, church, or community functions. Encourage volunteerism. Suggest a new hobby (possibly one you can do together).
For more tips on caring for your senior loved ones, visit our blog page.