The older you get, the harder it gets to stay active and keep a care-free lifestyle. Many older adults lose mobility due to conditions like stroke, severe arthritis, or injuries from falls. When that happens, activities and hobbies they used to enjoy might become too difficult to engage in. Therefore, it is important to find ways to stay optimistic about life. Staying vital and connected can help you ward off the depression or other mood disorders that often comes with aging. Here is a list of recommendations that might help with the quality of life of your elders.
Stay involved in family gatherings
The role of your elder must remain important in your family life. If they cannot be active as they were, they can get other family duties. They might enjoy the most spending time with grandchildren. However, choose the time and the possible supervision depending on their age and health. Sometimes elders can’t babysit or even stay with children unsupervised as they might have special needs or mood swings connected to their biorhythm, medicines, and their physical availability.
Use social media
The 21st century is an era of technology. Whether they are into it or not, encourage them. You can schedule regular phone calls to help them keep up with everyone, and make a group where you could share messages and pictures of your day. They could find some old friends and expand their circle this way. Be careful, though to educate them about internet safety, as many dangers lie behind just a few clicks. The most important thing to teach them is their data, their online payments, e-banking, and viruses behind ads. Be open with them and be patient with mistakes and explanations you will most likely need to repeat a few times.
With physical issues, even basic daily chores and body care can become hard. If your elder is still able to take care of themselves but occasionally forgets, you can help them to develop a system to remember their daily activities. It can be something as simple as a to-do list, a timer, or even a smartwatch with the calendar and pre-set alarms for different daily obligations. You may help them by hiring a cleaning service or daily palliative care unit that comes to the elder’s home and helps. Whatever state they are in, do give them a chore. Caring about a plant, creating lists for groceries during the week, writing down their favourite receipts to make together, etc. Help them see that they have a purpose.
Gardening or plant keeping
Elders that have close connections with their children and grandchildren can often be of nurturing nature. As such it is a great idea to give them an activity that requires caring, physical activity, as well as knowledge. If they live in an apartment, a plant is always a good idea to start with. Plant keeping is a relatively peaceful hobby that gives back a lot. You can start with beginner plant species and go to the more complex ones. If they are lucky to live in a house, then the yard is their new playground! Set plant beds for flowers, plant a fruit tree or help them grow food for your family. They can also connect with other plant keepers or gardeners, and thus make new friends.
Often the worst part about living as an elder is solitude. It is proven that solitude worsens mental state and can lead to depression. Apart from making new human friends, your elder can have a furry friend! If they are scared that a kitten or a puppy will be too much to handle, take them to your local shelter to adopt a senior animal. The least interesting animals to adopt are usually older animals, and your caring, lonely elder might just connect to that. Additionally, the older animal will be at a slower pace and most likely will have sanitary habits that should make your elder’s life easier but richer.
Making new friends, engaging in new hobbies, being on the phone all day long can be scary to your elder. The way to encourage them just might be by allowing them to see how it can be done. The best way to do this is by volunteering. Contrary to what you might think, volunteering is possible at any age. If this still seems too daunting for them, they can go to the daily senior centre of palliative care and engage in conversations and table games with their peers. It might seem funny to have an elder that goes to the daily care, but that is the great part of it: they can see the opportunities and also the possibility of the scary-sounding life in palliative care (which mostly doesn’t turn out that way once they see it for themselves).
Puzzles and games
It is never too late to pick up a new hobby or go back to the old one. And whereas that old hobby might not be applicable anymore, that still doesn’t mean they should give up on their favourite activities. If they are into sports that they can’t play anymore, they might engage in cheering for a local team. For the less rowdy people, solving big puzzles just might be the thing they need. Usually, there are local clubs for chess or other team-oriented sports that are not hard on the body, like bowling.
The older you are, the more you realize that there is a lot to know about. Connected to the new hobbies, as it is one, reading never gets old. Yes, nowadays people read from their screens, whether it is a laptop, mobile phone or kindle, but there is something special about holding a book in your hands. They could also pick up audiobooks, especially if their older age has brought sight impairment. Classic literature, contemporary, or books about psychology, science, industry topics – whatever piques your elder’s attention can be their new favourite topic to read, talk about and maybe even engage in it!
Most of the time, elderly people adore having their own tasks that can’t be done by anyone else. And while physical limitations can come in their way, the crafts are so many that they can find the one for them no matter their health. Craft can be the cookies no one knows how to make or the hats made by them. The art pieces, the garden, the décor for different occasions or simple organization around home – their skills should be saved as theirs only until they decide to change that. Creativity for these activities can help people who are battling chronic illness to decrease negative emotions, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve medical outcomes.
Many possibilities of our bodies are taken for granted until there is an issue. One of such is being able to walk, and the elder, unfortunately, understands why. Harvard study has shown that one of the surprising benefits of walking is that it helps with arthritis as the motion helps in lubrication of the joints and supporting muscles strength, as well as boosting the overall immune system. Walking for at least 20 minutes every day helps with the immune system, arthritis, blood pressure, digestion and so much more. The existing physical limitations might decide on the length of their walk, but the time spent being mobile is what counts.
A person is never too old for new experiences, as proven by previous examples. However, why shouldn’t they get to explore physically, by travelling? With all the limitations during the previous few years, everyone wants to try out new things and new places. Elders certainly had the longest time to think about what were they missing out on. Travelling can wake them up from their monotone activities, provide thrills from new experiences, new tastes, and new knowledge they are certain to acquire. They don’t need to go far to explore new places if that is your concern. Going to the next city, visiting local or regionally known attractions, and learning about their residing place could still be the thrill they just might need.
Aside from mentioned gardening, walking, and a few more activities, the elders can and should still exercise. They can do sports if they are medically permitted to, but some nice physical activities are a bit more age-appropriate. Many martial arts don’t have an age restriction, and from the eastern arts, we should honourably mention tai chi and yoga, as well as western Nordic walking. Tai chi and yoga help with consistent mobility and flexibility moves, while nordic walking improves strength and is a considerably more vigorous form of exercise. Whatever form of exercise your elder gets interested in, please get medical advice beforehand.
Teach or learn
The long and eventful life certainly has given a considerable amount of knowledge and skill in some type of skill. Your elder might still want to improve that skill, learn a new one or be a teacher themselves. It can be something as physically easy as learning a new language, but it can include taking a course in art or craft. Furthermore, they could be a teacher by spreading their existing knowledge. Their students could be your family, your neighbours or people who want a real course. Let them decide on their payment with a piece of advice about prices if they choose to make money and let them enjoy being the important person.
Have a joined activity
Maintaining a close relationship with your elder can be strenuous. They want to understand what is happening, can be controlling and judgemental because ‘that wasn’t like this when I was your age’, and overall not interested in spending quality time with you and other family members. As with the craft that they are skilled in, you should find and match their interests. Quality time is important as you get to know where you came from and make a friend out of a person who raised you. Relationships mean that people stay together in good and bad, so why not make it good for as long as possible?
Written by Frank Robertson
About the Author
My name is Frank Robertson. I’m a writer. I choose my topics carefully and try to write about topics that can help my readers. Connect with me on Twitter.
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