How to Care For Senior Citizens
What Do Seniors Deal With?
As a therapist, I work with people of all ages. I enjoy working with children, but I also enjoy working with senior citizens. Seniors have a lot to share; a lot of experiences that they can relay to others. I grew up living with my grandmother and I enjoyed things that she had to say. She was full of wisdom, stories of the past, and love. I still remember her advice to me when I left for college. She said, "Never take a mixed drink from someone you don't know". Now that was good advice.
It is sad though to see how many seniors are disregarded. When I talk with older adults in my office, I see them dealing with depression, anxiety, loss of family, and loss of freedom, and frustration over health issues and loss of abilities. They deal with pain issues, multiple medical issues, and death of family members and friends. Those around them don't seem to understand what they are going through and often just find them irritating.
I have a patient right now who lost her husband of over 40 years a few years ago, her youngest son is not speaking to her because his wife does not like her, she has multiple medical complications, including having to be on full time oxygen, she does not drive, and stays in her home with no real activities. She is severely depressed, can't sleep, and just wants to know what she did wrong. This woman has done nothing wrong. She was a military wife who raised two children with a husband who was deployed for 6 months at a time.
Children Showing How It's Done
What Do We Need To Do For Our Seniors?
It is up to us to take care of our aging friends and family members. Here are some things we can do:
1. Take time to listen to seniors when they talk. They have stories they want to tell and these stories have meaning for them. Some seniors may repeat themselves or forget things at times, but be patient. Don't be in such a hurry. You may actually learn something.
2. Offer to help a senior who lives alone or with an elderly spouse. There are many things they are not able to do for themselves anymore and this comes as a frustration for them. This not only provides help in certain areas of need, but also friendship and companionship.
3. Enlist a senior's help with things they are able to do. If you are a part of a church or service organization, ask seniors to help with activities such as Vacation Bible School, outreaches, sewing projects, reading to children, or so many other things that are possible and that will keep them feeling useful.
4. Teach your children to respect their elders. There is a little girl in our church that I respect so much. For the last few years for her birthday, she has chosen to have a party at a nursing home and instead of getting gifts for herself, she has asked for people to bring things that the residents of the home would enjoy. Bags were made up and given out to the residents with such items as hand cream, brushes, small nicknacks, socks, and other things they could use. During the party, various people played instruments, sang, and entertained the residents in a group room. Now this young lady has it together.
5. Please don't disown your elderly parents or relatives. Work through problems. Remember that you may not have a second chance.
Seniors are our link to the past and a special part of our present. If we are not careful, we will miss what they have to share. When we take time to listen, help, share, and love, we give back to our seniors and utimately keep them from the pits of anxiety, depression, and despair.