Growing older isn’t always easy. While there are benefits such as increased freedom and the ability to retire, many seniors are faced with new challenges. Relationships change, social circles dwindle and health problems may increase. As a senior’s life evolves, so does his or her emotional needs.
Here at Santé, our caring and compassionate staff members are trained to understand the emotional and physical needs of seniors. However, there’s no substitute for a loved one. Here are four things to consider when dealing with an elderly friend or family member who is going through a difficult time.
It’s a parent’s responsibility to take care of a child; to see that their needs are met and they feel safe and secure. With aging parents, those traditional roles often reverse. Many seniors have difficulty leaning on their children for support as they get older. They may feel uncomfortable asking for help or relying on you to take care of daily tasks. Your parent may prefer receiving help from Santé’s home health aides and care team. If this happens, remember that it’s not personal. Your loved one may be embarrassed asking for help from a family member, or doesn’t want to change your relationship with them.
Retirement seems like a treat, especially if you’ve worked the daily 9 to 5 grind for 40+ years. Yet many seniors worry about how they will spend their retirement years. Without work, how will they fill their days? Younger friends and family members are often busy with hectic schedules. And there’s only so much TV to catch up on. Boredom and depression can creep in during slow activity times. To help a senior through these feelings, spend your “together time” doing activities they enjoy. Help your loved one find activities, clubs or classes that will keep their minds or bodies occupied even when family members aren’t around.
Natural declines can cause seniors to feel more vulnerable than other age groups. Your loved one may worry about issues such as personal safety, illness and memory loss. It’s important for relatives and friends to listen to a senior’s concerns. Remember that sometimes an elderly person just wants to be heard. Find out where and when your loved one feels most vulnerable, and work to calm those fears. For example, safety concerns could be addressed with a home alarm system or the daily presence of a care worker.
As we age, our social circles naturally dwindle. Friends move, become busy or pass away. Family members may visit less or become too busy with their own lives. Thus, loneliness and social isolation are major problems among older adults. A feeling of disconnection from friends and family can lead to depression and even early mortality. According to the AARP Foundation, the health risks of isolation are on par with daily smoking. To prevent a senior from feeling lonely, encourage connection. Spend time with them, and encourage activities that could provide new friendship groups, such as clubs or activities at a local senior center. If your loved one has mobility issues or lives long-distance, connect online via Skype.
A senior’s emotional well-being is just as important as his or her physical health. While some care facilities focus on physical needs, Santé’s comprehensive approach to elder care includes emotional support. Whatever their situation or health condition, it’s crucial that your loved one feel safe, secure and connected. For information on our senior care options, call 480-563-2402 or visit one of our Arizona locations today.