Time has a way of building a person up and then withering them down. Especially as decades pass and the loved ones in your life grow old, it can be hard to watch them become more dependent on those around them. And while you may be keenly attuned to their physical needs, it is also crucial to fulfill their emotional needs.
Emotional health plays a crucial role in helping elderly people maintain a positive outlook and improving the overall quality of their life. Therefore, by being attuned to their emotional needs and providing them with love, care, attention, and support, you can improve the lives of your elderly loved ones. For this reason, let us discuss some ways you can improve their emotional health and make them feel valued, heard, and supported.
1. Encourage them to communicate openly
One of the reasons why elderly people tend to feel more lonely and isolated is because they no longer participate in as many daily activities as they used to. Retirement from work leaves more time on their hands, and if the rest of the family is busy, they are left all by themselves, which can lead to feelings of loneliness. Such cases are especially severe for elderly individuals who are bedridden due to old age or some disease. In that case, it is crucial to encourage open communication with them to understand what they’re going through. If, for example, your loved one is suffering from a severe condition such as cancer or mesothelioma, encouraging open communication will also help you understand their needs. To understand more about what they’re going through, you can research and acquire more information on the subject from www.mesotheliomasymptoms.com. Doing so will help you become more aware of their pains and struggles, and you can use that knowledge to help them to the best of your abilities.
2. Foster meaningful connections with them
Old age is often accompanied by feelings of loneliness and isolation from the rest of the world. However, your support and efforts can help your elderly loved ones combat this feeling. To make them feel included and wanted, engage them in different activities and social interactions. For this purpose, you can start by attending community events with them. Whether it’s going to community BBQs or weekly religious gatherings, making your elderly loved ones participate can give them a sense of belonging and community.
3. Spend quality time with them
When an elderly individual moves into a retirement center or a nursing home, they may feel out of their element and even abandoned by their family. Often, their biggest fear is the loss of connection with their family, which can plunge them into depression. Therefore, it is crucial to spend quality time with them whenever you can. Visiting on weekends, checking in on them through audio and video calls, or even a simple letter can help your elderly loved one combat the feelings of loneliness. If you can’t connect too often, make sure you spend quality time whenever you meet them. Playing a game of Bingo, taking a stroll in the park, having a good meal, or going bird watching with them are all activities they can engage in and enjoy with you.
4. Engage them in mind-boosting activities
When someone has too much time on their hands, they are bound to get bored, which often leads to overthinking and all the different kinds of emotional turmoil that accompany it. Such cases are especially common among elderly individuals as they tend to get more irritable, angry, or emotionally unstable due to this reason. Since they are retired and cannot work, it can make them feel unwanted, bored, and useless. For this reason, engaging them in mind-boosting activities can help them become more proactive. To keep them engaged, you can play games with them, solve puzzles, or help them practice or learn a new craft.
Additionally, playing puzzle games and learning a new craft will boost their mind and help them tackle the effects of old age on memory. Studies have revealed that playing mind-engaging games such as puzzles or cards has the potential to prevent and delay the effects of Alzheimer’s disease by at least half a decade or more. This is not only true for Alzheimer’s but for all kinds of memory loss conditions that accompany old age. Therefore, help your elderly loved ones battle the effects of old age by engaging them in games and crafts.
5. Engage them in physical activities
Preventing your elderly loved ones from suffering the mental effects of old age is important, but keeping them physically healthy is just as necessary. Studies have established that exercising releases endorphins in the body, which helps in improving mood and mental health. Therefore, exercising will not only help your elderly loved ones become physically active but also improve their mental and emotional well-being. For this purpose, you can motivate them to participate in light physical activities such as walking, tai-chi, and yoga, or even sign them up for some ballroom or line dancing classes. These fun activities will not only boost their mood but also help them interact with people of their age and interests.
6. Encourage independence and offer the necessary assistance
One of the major reasons why old age may cause depression and stress in your loved ones is the lack of independence. Having to rely on someone else to do everything for you can lead to a sense of helplessness and poor mental health. Therefore, while it is your responsibility to ensure that they have a comfortable living situation and provide assistance, encouraging them to become more independent can drastically improve their emotional health. By involving them in decision-making or different activities like painting, gardening, and cooking, you will give them a sense of purpose. Working with them side by side will also help you learn a lot, for they will have a lot of wisdom and knowledge to impart, and who knows, you may even end up perfecting your grandma’s famous pot pie recipe.
Supporting the physical and emotional well-being of your elderly loved ones is a significant responsibility. But these methods can help you support and improve your elderly loved one’s emotional health. These caregiving methods are designed to help them emotionally and enrich your experience with them and make each interaction wholesome and worth remembering. Remember that these are their golden years; they have much love to give and wisdom to impart. All you have to do is be there for them, emotionally and physically.