Over the past century, life expectancy estimates have been steadily growing, having more than doubled since 1900. Reaching an advanced age is a wonderful thing, but it comes with challenges that need to be addressed like every other age. Seniors can often struggle with feelings of purposelessness following retirement. As children grow and leave the nest, loneliness and isolation are also common problems. Adding to that the fact that age often brings a decline in health, it appears that there are many ways in which the quality of life standard for seniors decreases with age.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’d like to know how you can help your parents, grandparents, or the elderly in your community, you can find some inspiration in the following ideas.
Stay in motion
Getting enough activity is essential at any age, and it’s no less essential when growing older. Physical exercise is important not only to maintain health and optimal mobility but also for mental health. You may be apprehensive about getting an elder into a workout routine. Of course, it’s important for the exercise to be tailored to a person’s physical abilities and to consider any recommendations a physician makes. Even mild exercise, such as taking a walk, can positively affect your senior with the benefits of exercise, like reducing chronic pain and mood improvement without creating strain or overexertion. If you’d like them to socialize more, consider sports like walking, football, golf or swimming. They’re a great way to meet and bond with new people.
The other type of motion that you should keep in mind is mental motion. Preserving cognitive health is one of the key aspects of improved quality of life. There are many ways to put the brain through a workout. According to recent research, reading is perhaps the simplest option, as it strengthens connections in the brain, enhances memory, and may even extend lifespans. If the elder is a music aficionado, you should know that music decreases blood pressure while improving sleep quality and mental alertness. If you’d like to take it up a notch, you can always recommend new hobbies. Gardening, jigsaw puzzles, bird watching, and even gaming are some ideas you can try out. Learning new things stimulates the brain. And when the brain is challenged, cognitive decline and impairment see a steep decline. If you want to mix physical exercise with a mental stimulus, get them a pet, ideally a dog, as a present.
Supporting excellent health comes from a combination of factors. One of them is getting plenty of exercise. Another is making sure the senior gets proper nutrition. High levels of dietary fiber lower the incidence of serious health conditions like heart diseases, so make sure your grandparents are getting plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Protein is also vital for maintaining energy levels, and they’re best obtained from fatty fish and lean cuts of meat. Dehydration is a common problem for the elderly, so be certain that they’re drinking plenty of water and unsweetened tea. Sleeping patterns may become disturbed with age, with both insomnia and oversleeping habitual problems. Establishing a routine and proper sleep hygiene practices can ameliorate this problem.
A crucial part of an elder’s well-being is access to good healthcare services. If you are looking to make sure that the seniors in your care are receiving the best professional care possible, choose a medical practice that uses the latest technological developments to deliver high-quality medical services. While a long-standing phenomenon following the pandemic, telemedicine solutions became more trustworthy in the eyes of the general public and, therefore, more common. The advantages are undeniable. With daily access to medical care from the comfort of their own home, elders get the assurance that a specialist is ready to address any of their healthcare needs on a 24-hour basis. Having an assigned clinician provides peace of mind and reassurance and makes an elderly patient feel protected. Anxiety over unpredictable situations is lessened, and quality of life is improved.
After retirement, many elders struggle with feelings of hopelessness. Many feel that they’re forced to become idle and like the whole world sets them aside, which has detrimental effects on self-esteem and mental health. The solution is to find ways to bring a sense of purpose and belonging to the elder’s life. Most individuals strongly associate their work and accomplishments with their identity, and having that removed, leaves them facing an identity crisis.
Small actions can create far-reaching reverberations, so shopping, babysitting a grandchild, folding laundry or cooking a meal are some of the accessible ways for older adults to feel helpful. They must be left to do things on their own in the absence of medical contraindications. This way, the elder’s sense of confidence grows, and they realize they can maintain their independence. Don’t be constantly hovering over them since it sends the message that they’re incapable of taking care of themselves. And that isn’t very respectful.
Since older adults don’t have a daily routine of going to school or work, it becomes challenging to socialize regularly. Younger people around most likely lead busy lives, so their visits are brief and infrequent. Isolation can have very injurious effects on mental health, often leading to depression. When mental health problems appear, they can force elders to want to self-isolate, creating a vicious cycle. That’s why it’s vital to make sure elders maintain and develop new connections, particularly with people their age. Joining a local sports club or the local senior center is an excellent start.
Encourage elders to leave their homes. Stepping outside their front doors is often enough to find a friendly neighbor to chat with. The elderly have a strong capacity for starting up conversations with people anywhere, including on the bus, while sitting on a bench in the park, or when waiting in line at the cashier’s when at the supermarket. And one more thing, the next time an older person starts telling you a story from their golden days, take the time to listen. It may not seem like much, but it can mean the world to them.