Is your elderly loved one struggling with their mobility? Are they down in the dumps because of memory impairment or the recent death of their lifelong partner? It’s time to cheer them up, keep them happy, and make sure they continue to live a fulfilling and independent life by following these tips.
Get a Pet
A pet provides fantastic company for a senior who lives alone and/or has just lost a long-term partner. A cat will play with them, cuddle with them, and maintain its independence while requiring very little input. A dog will be a little more loyal and will also give them a great excuse to get out of the house.
Just remember to always go to an animal shelter first. Not only will you be saving a life, but you’ll also get an older animal that is going to be less troublesome and mischievous than a puppy or kitten.
Make sure you think about the animal over the long-term, as well. It’s a petty morbid thought to have, but if the animal has a good 10 to 20 years ahead of it and your loved one has a prognosis of just a few years, you’ll need to consider who will get the animal when they die.
Many seniors purchase birds because they’re not as demanding as dogs, are very entertaining, and make for great companions. The problem is that birds tend to form strong relationships with their owners and some of them live for 70 years. That means that, eventually, that bird is going to have its little heart broken.
That’s all the more reason to adopt, as getting an animal that has lost someone near and dear in the past, just like its owner, is always possible.
Make Sure they Have a Hobby
Everyone needs a hobby. It doesn’t matter what that hobby is (writing, fishing, painting, knitting, puzzles) as long as it helps them pass the time. It will become their reason to get up in the morning and will provide them with a great deal of satisfaction every time they make big improvements.
Connect Them with Old Friends
It’s easy to poke fun at social media and the way that it has impacted our lives. It has somehow made us all a little more distant by virtue of bringing us together, and it’s created a generation of kids who think the world wants to know everything that they eat, wear, buy, and think.
Regardless, there are a lot of benefits as well, and if you have ever helped an elderly loved one join a site like Facebook, you’ve witnessed this for yourself.
They go from complaining that “nothing works” and everything is “stupid,” to excitedly telling you how they just connected with someone they haven’t seen in 50 years.
It’s heartwarming to watch, and that’s why social media is such a powerful tool for seniors. If they are not online, connect them, show them how it works, and get them on their way. They can connect with family members overseas, speak with friends they haven’t seen in years, and join communities with people that share the same interests.
To someone who has been surrounded by social media for many years, all of these things come naturally, and they are more of a distraction than anything else. On the other hand, to someone who still lives their life in a world of live TVs and phonebooks, it’s a godsend.
Attend a Class
Check your local area for classes that your loved one can attend. It will get them out of the house, surround them with like-minded people, and give them something to pass the time. Don’t simply insist that they join the first class you find. Instead, make sure they have an actual interest first.
There are usually plenty of classes for dancing, art, creative writing, language learning, and more. Look for something that will interest them, enroll them, and watch as they come to life during these weekly or bi-weekly events.
If your elderly loved one is insisting that everything is okay and that they don’t need new hobbies or a Facebook account, you need to be a little more persistent. The “everything is fine” attitude is adopted by the majority of seniors, and a large number of those may be struggling from day to day and dealing with depression, stress, and anxiety.
Insist that they need to at least start moving in the right direction, whether that means joining Facebook and sending a few requests or finding a local class where they can practice their hobby. Once they get the ball rolling, they’ll be hooked.
Summary: Keeping Your Elderly Loved One Happy
Depression can strike at any age and it can be just as crippling to a retired 80-year-old as it is to a hard-working 40-year-old. In fact, it’s often worse in older individuals, as they tend to hide it very well and their condition may be worsened by their limited mobility and/or memory.