Do you have an elderly loved one whose life you would like to help make better? Small changes can make a big difference for seniors who are entering their golden years. Here are nine things that you can do to improve the qualitLy of life of your elderly loved ones — from buying them men’s adaptive clothing to checking on their finances:
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Stay on top of their physical health.
Dealing with physical health issues is unfortunately a side effect of aging — but that doesn’t mean that your loved one just has to grin and bear it. If they are reluctant to go to the doctor because they think “that’s just the way things are now,” check in on them regularly to make sure that they’re keeping up with their doctors’ appointments. You should also make sure that they’re taking their medications on schedule. Early stage cognitive decline can lead to skipped or doubled doses, both of which can be problematic.
Remember their mental health, too.
Older adults’ physical health gets a lot of attention — for good reason — but their mental health is also of concern. Seniors are especially vulnerable to depression due to increased isolation and loss of friends, and they may also experience anxiety and other mental health conditions as well. If you notice your loved one becoming sad, withdrawn or other exhibiting symptoms as well, take them for an assessment at a psychologist. There are several different treatments available, including talk therapy and medications. Your loved one doesn’t have to suffer in silence. Help is available.
Make daily tasks easier.
One of things that older adults struggle with the most is not being able to accomplish daily tasks such as feeding and dressing themselves. Thankfully, there are many innovations that can help older adults with arthritis, Parkinson’s and other conditions to maintain independence. Adaptive clothing for women and men will allow them to continue dressing themselves. Anti-tremor utensils and adult bibs will help people with hand shaking continue to feed themselves. Seek out these devices for the elderly to make a big difference in their daily lives.
Encourage physical activity.
It’s never too late to start an exercise routine, and even seniors who are wheelchair-bound can benefit from physical activity. Encourage your loved one to start exercising in a way they find enjoyable, whether that’s walking around the block, attending a water aerobics class or doing a dance workout video at home. Make sure that they clear any new physical activity with their doctor. Depending on their health conditions, they may have restrictions on what activities they can and can’t do.
Keep them connected with the family.
Many seniors are afraid of losing connections with their family members as they grow older. However, they may also be reluctant to reach out to you, for fear of being a burden. Make it a point to proactively reach out to them instead, calling them and inviting them to family gatherings. If your elderly loved one is technologically challenged, you might need to assist them with phone or video calls. And if their mobility is limited, you might need to bring the family event to them rather than the other way around.
Help them stay social.
Staying socially connected isn’t just limited to the family. It’s also really beneficial for elderly people to maintain friendships with people of all ages. If they don’t already have a strong social circle, encourage them to get involved at the local senior center or through other age-appropriate community groups. These groups are great ways to meet people in the same phase of life who also have similar interests as them, immediately giving them common ground on which to form a friendship.
Check in on their finances.
Unfortunately, older adults are very vulnerable financially, which can impact their ability to support themselves. Age-related cognitive decline can lead to skipping bill payments, recklessly spending savings and falling prey to scams. If you don’t have access to their accounts, look for late bill notices, letters from banks and other warning signs around their house. If you suspect financial foul play, you may need to step in and potentially take over management of their accounts to prevent their retirement savings from vanishing.
Support their hobbies.
After they retire from the working world, senior adults find a lot of fulfillment in hobbies, whether that’s bird watching or volunteering with a local charity. Most older adults already have some hobbies that they are happy to have more time to pursue. However, some might need a little push in order to experiment with some activities to see what suits their fancy, especially if they worked long hours and never really had time for hobbies outside their job. The senior classes we mentioned in the section above are a great way to get started if they have no idea what to do on their own.
Plan for the future.
Nobody likes to think about the moment when your elderly loved ones will no longer be with you, but it’s prudent to plan ahead for the sake of the entire family. You should have an official document that declares whether they want to be resuscitated or not in case of an emergency and an up-to-date will that has been signed or notarized. You should also discuss their final wishes and create a plan for their burial or cremation in the event of their death. Having this all in place ahead of time will give the whole family peace of mind so you can focus on spending quality time together instead of worrying about the future.
Improving the life of your elderly loved ones takes effort and preparation, but it’s so worth it. Follow these nine suggestions to help the seniors in your life make the most of their golden years. Got more ideas for improving the quality of life for elderly people? Add them in the comments below!