We often find ourselves thinking about how long or short our life may or may not be. But how often do we think about the quality of life we lead and not the quantity? We forget that how long we live is ultimately dependent upon the kind of life we lead. For senior citizens who are dealing with chronic health conditions and major life changes, a good quality of life is especially important.
For many years, there has been a lot of emphasis on quality elderly care, but not the quality of life for seniors. This needs to change, because both the things – quality of care and quality of life – are interconnected. If one isn’t there, the other ceases to exist automatically. Simply catering to an elderly’s medical needs isn’t enough – their mental and emotional needs also require attention.
In this scenario, having a positive outlook can help in a big way. It will give seniors a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment and also help alleviate some medical issues like stress, loss of appetite, cognitive decline, stress and lack of energy. This has also been indicated by several studies, which have said that older adults with a sense of purpose are less likely to suffer from cognitive impairment, heart attacks and strokes and also live longer.
So, how can we – as family caregivers – contribute towards providing a good quality of life to our seniors? To help you out, we have listed a few tips you can follow.
Ensure Good In-Home Care
If you are a family caregiver, you know what your senior loved one requires. However, if you plan on bringing in external caregiving help, you need to make sure that you hire the right person. For this purpose, it is important to meet and interview numerous candidates, shortlist those you feel are right, then interview them again to finalize the one you feel would take care of your senior member well.
Once you’ve hired them, give them as much information about the elderly as you can – their interests, likes and dislikes, hobbies, etc. You can also suggest some activities that your loved one may enjoy – both indoor and outdoor. Monitor the caregiver from time to time to make sure both the caregiver and your loved one are getting along. Also maintain a calendar listing down the caregiver schedule and family visits.
Make Seniors Feel Needed and Useful
Helping your senior loved one feel needed and useful gives them a sense of purpose and makes them feel that there’s a meaning to life. This is especially important for the elderly because they shouldn’t feel like they’re a burden. Ask them to help you with simple tasks like folding the laundry, opening the mail, making a grocery list, updating you with the latest news, cooking meals or even accompanying you to the grocery store. Encourage them and praise them even if you feel that they didn’t do the task efficiently. Their contribution is what matters.
Ensure Social Engagement
As caregivers of the elderly, we must encourage our senior loved ones to make social connections and engage with people on a regular basis. This doesn’t just include your extended family, but also friends of theirs. Take them to visit their friends or speak to their friends’ caregivers and organize a casual lunch at their place or yours. Speak to your nearby community and help them arrange a nice group outing for seniors or an activity they can enjoy together.
Loneliness and isolation are a major cause of depression among seniors and regularly catching up with family and friends can reduce the risk of the disorder in a big way.
Encourage Physical Activity
The benefits of exercise for every age group have always been highlighted, time and again. For senior citizens, however, regular physical activity is a gold mine. Experts suggest that at least 30 minutes of exercise for older adults on a daily basis can reduce their health issues to a great extent. So, encourage your loved ones to incorporate some kind of physical activity in their day. It could be a nice walk, yoga, swimming or light stretches. To motivate them, you can accompany them too. Remember to consult their doctor or a professional trainer before they begin a regular regimen.
Offer Comfort and Security
Have you ever wondered why seniors love to remain at home and are hesitant to go out? Many senior caregivers may think that they’re being stubborn, but really think about it. Being at home gives them a sense of comfort that they will never feel anywhere else. Think of it from their perspective. They’ve been living in that house for ages – it’s a place where they spent time with their spouses, watched their children grow and are seeing their grandchildren grow. All those years have culminated into thousands of cherished memories which give them peace, comfort and a sense of security. Going to unfamiliar environments at their age can be scary and staying within their community promises comfort and enhances their quality of life. Therefore, make sure you don’t force them into doing anything or going anywhere they don’t feel comfortable. Doing that will only increase their anxiety and stress, which can lead to health issues.
We now know that ageing poses many challenges to an elderly’s quality and quantity of life – and elderly encompasses both. Contributing towards quality can take care of quantity too. So, make sure you follow these 5 tips and give your senior loved a fulfilling life.