How to Help the Seniors in your Life
Dogs and Cats can be Wonderful Therapy
Making the Transition Easier
Whether it is a parent, neighbor or a complete stranger at the grocery store struggling with a new more "efficient" DIY check out system, the fact remains that adults over age 80 are the fastest growing segment of the population; most will spend years dependent on others for the most basic needs. By lending a hand once in awhile, one not only educates themselves on the pleasures and pitfalls of aging, an act of kindness brings joy to everyone involved, making that dreaded transition a little easier. May your cup of karma runneth-over, as feeling good never gets old!
As people become less active and less engaged in a productive lifestyle they tend to focus on relatively minor things, simply because there is nothing else to more important to do. If you think about it, under the circumstances a negative frame of mind is not really that surprising. When you consider a busy, vital individual, contributing to society on a daily basis who then suddenly finds themselves alone much of the time, perhaps not able to participate in some of the activities that they once enjoyed, the death of many in their peer group and then feeling like they are becoming a burden on loved ones, the same people that they once cared for. This is a major role reversal, and a huge adjustment for anyone to adjust to.
Like most things in life, some personalities handle this transition better than others. I cared for both of my Grandmas in their later years. One seemed to handle the aging process much better, I suspect that's because she remained active as long as possible and once she retired she went out of her way to do things for others, which made her feel needed and more plugged in socially. She did experience bouts of depression however and feelings of worthlessness initially when she stopped driving. I remember talking with her about it, and this did seem to help her to put it into perspective. If one is in touch with changes that are taking place in their life and are able to verbalize how it feels to gradually lose the independence and control that we sometimes take for granted, the change is easier to accept and not so terrifying.
My other Grandma did not handle things nearly so well and shut herself off from most of the activities that she used to enjoy. She viewed herself as an aging victim of a cruel world and found fault with every one and every suggestion that friends and family made to try and preserve her quality of life. As a result, she spent more time alone, isolated and not very happy. She was always rather difficult and when she became older and physically limited her outlook on life became even worse.
So, although I don't think there is really a canned "solution" that works for everyone, I do think there are a few things that greatly improve the inevitable process of aging.
- Encourage as much activity as possible. Some may not be very receptive to the idea, so I know this may not always be easy but perhaps if one is made to feel like their involvement would really benefit someone else, less fortunate, they may be more receptive to the idea. There are usually senior centers in every community that have programs that handle just this kind of issue. There are jobs and projects that seniors can sign up for that not only provide a bit of extra income but make them feel productive and useful as they once did.
- Talk, talk, talk! Engage Aunt Aggie in some choice conversation and you might be surprised.Nothing lights up the family Matriarch like sharing her experiences and accomplishments back in the day. It can actually be incredibly interesting too. How else do younger generations learn about life in 1925 and Uncle Leroy's multiple marriages.
- Volunteer to visit a housebound senior, whether it is on a professional capacity or just to sit and provide companionship to someone without family close by, there are many organizations that will assist with creating the best matches for these extremely beneficial relationships. Pets are also a great companion for many seniors and there are now many organizations that will provide a matching service for permanent adoptions or periodic visits to rest homes and convalescent centers
- If you do feel that a senior's condition is more severe than initially thought,they may need intervention of some sort for their own safety, so don't hesitate to make a call. Professional attention can make a huge difference, the earlier the better since it may be a minor physical issue that can be resolved with the right medication.. A thorough physical and mental assessment may be in order, and sometimes we all avoid that visit out of fear of the unknown so try to be compassionate and supportive
- Do try and utilize as many outside resources as you can in your community as they do exist and they are very familiar with the growing needs of an aging population. If for whatever reason one does not exist,look into starting an organization that meets the needs of this rapidly expanding problem. More and more people are going to find themselves in need of these kind of services so it seems best to deal with it more proactively
- Don't forget to laugh - it is contagious and I hear it does great things for the body and mind, young and old alike!
Cynthia Scott Sings about her Mother's Dementia
Move it - With a Smile
Resources for Seniors-Quality of Life
- Active Seniors' Options, Inc.
Resources and links
- Home Care Services for Seniors: Services to Help you Stay at Home
Learn about home care services for seniors that can help you maintain your independence and stay at home for as long as possible.
- - USATODAY.com
As a wave of Americans face the end of their driving lives, communities around the USA are working to keep seniors mobile and avoid depression-inducing isolation that can come with the end of their driving days.
- H.E.L.P. | Empowering seniors, their families and caregivers, to make better choices.
- Seniors Helping Seniors Jobs, Employment|Indeed.com
Never too Old! 15,901 Seniors Helping Seniors Jobs available on Indeed.com. one search. all jobs.