When your loved one comes into the years of the true senior hood, it may come as a surprise to you that you will be needed. You may even feel like you are now the parent, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat your senior loved ones like children. It only means that you are needed in a supportive role to help them live a great life in the face of aging. Improving their quality of life can do a lot for their spirit as well as their longevity.
Independent Living (via Retirement Communities)
If your senior has always led an active lifestyle and is interested in continuing in the same way, there are lots of options available. Downsizing their current living situation can put them in a better position to do all the things they love to do while freeing up money in the budget. Retirement living communities are one way to do this.
Independent living is perfect for seniors can look like many things. It can be houses, condos, or apartment-style. There are usually activity facilities in the community, scenic areas, and other amenities. Independent living communities are usually close to shops and may even have a free shuttle to get residents to those areas. There are many advantages to your seniors living their golden years in this style of community. Lawn care and landscaping are taken care of, some communities offer to dine, social life is promoted and physical activity is also available.
Although retirement communities are only for seniors, their family members are welcome to visit. Many of these communities will allow the family and friends of its residents to make use of some of the amenities (within reason, of course). Just be sure to check the community rules. There is a wide range of activities that any active or even somewhat active senior can thoroughly enjoy. Possible activities may include movie nights, various sporting tournaments, mall trips, wine tastings and so much more.
Another advantage to independent living communities is security, home maintenance, access to regular medical care, daily meals, and concierge services just to name a few. Being able to find the perfect balance between the independence your senior is accustomed to and having the necessary support and help they have grown to need is the driving force behind retirement communities. Of course, it is a change, but independent living communities offer seniors a chance to be as active, social, and lively as they want to be.
Quality of Life
Living is a lot more enjoyable when your senior loved one has a great quality of life. This means that your loved one feels satisfied and fulfilled in their life. A positive outlook on life is something that seniors need to experience less stress, be more energetic, and prevent or slow cognitive decline. When your loved one’s quality of life is faltering, things can really start to go awry, you may notice signs of depression, a lack of appetite or even withdrawing from things that would normally be met with enthusiasm.
Read how you can help an elderly family member with depression
There are several things you can do to help boost your loved one’s quality of life so that they can be vibrant and autonomous for as long as possible.
- Regular medical visits are very important to your senior’s quality of life. Senior citizens who get regular checkups tend to be less ill because problems can be caught before they get too big to be easily managed. This may include psychological checkups and visits as well. Catching physiological issues early is one way to get a handle on things like depression, anxiety, and dementia before they progress too far.
- Everyone wants to feel useful and that they have a purpose in life. Once children have grown up and started their own families, seniors can feel a little useless, so giving them something to do that matters to someone else can fill that void. Volunteering with a cause that is important to them is one great way to help them feel purposeful. Other things you can ask them to do are babysit children, help with household chores, clip coupons or help prepare meals.
- Regular physical activity is another great way to improve the quality of life. Physical activity does this for anyone no matter their age group. Exercise relieves stress, anxiety and can help keep medical conditions in check.
- Maintaining a social network is important. Keeping in touch with friends and making new acquaintances can make your senior feel connected to both family and community. You can start a tradition of going out to eat once a week or make regular visits to a certain store, park, or garden. You can even help them get started with a new hobby such as coloring. Often, a new hobby can lead to hobby clubs and meeting new people.
Keep Them Active
Encouraging your senior loved ones to be active is very important to their overall health and mental well-being. Seniors who live an active and healthy lifestyle tend to suffer from fewer chronic diseases. And even if your loved one suffers from a chronic disease, he or she may find that staying physically active as much as possible will lessen the severity of the symptoms of the disease.
There are so many benefits from staying active. It doesn’t have to be running 5K races, but it could be if your loved one is up for it. Even walking can have a positive impact on their health. Taking a purposeful walk with the intention of staying active is a low impact activity that allows for quiet time, fresh air, animal sighting and more. If your loved one is affected by pain or arthritis, perhaps water activities will be a better fit. Donning a bathing suit or swimming trunks and taking a walk in the pool may be more comfortable for your senior. There are even fitness classes of many different styles for different levels and age groups that take place in the pool. You can have a swimming pool in your backyard, that will not only a mean of fun and physical activity but also adds value to your house.
If you find that your loved one is more of a social butterfly, it may be helpful to offer to walk, run, swim or bike (even on hills) with them once or twice a week. This will be beneficial to both of you. Not only will you have the chance to spend some quality time with your loved one, but you will be able to create new memories and improve your health all at the same time. Some other physical activities include golf, hiking, tennis, camping, orienteering, and dancing.
In addition to physical activity, mental exercise is also very, very helpful for seniors. Things like chess, tutoring and animal training are just a few options your senior can try to help keep their brain cells engaged and help slow cognitive decline. If your loved one is already showing some signs of dementia or other cognitive troubles, now is the time to try to engage them in more mental activities to try to slow down and stave off some of the more severe symptoms. Unfortunately, dementia only gets worse, but you can do what you can to keep it from progressing rapidly.
Other mental activities include arts, crafts, jigsaw puzzles, reading, trivia, computer skills and card games. Any of these and more can do a lot to bring them joy, give them social outlets and learn new skills. Whether your senior loved one is in a care facility or living independently, both mental and physical activity can be a great benefit to their life.
When a senior loses a spouse it can be very difficult to transition to life without their mate. Although their mate cannot be replaced, a companion may help to fill some of that void. Help them to make new friends by attending social gatherings, or maybe your senior loved one would prefer a pet. Furry friends can do a lot for a senior. They are good stress relievers, they can provide a social outlet, certain pets promote more physical and mental activity, emotional support and so much more.
Feeling alone is one of the biggest troubles in the senior community. If your senior is particularly fond of company, a pet may be a great option. Pets don’t have to be the typical cat or dog, but there are fish (although you can’t play with them, maintaining and creating tank decor can be very engaging), reptiles, birds and more. Have an in-depth conversation with your loved one if you’re thinking about gifting them a pet. You want to make sure that you’re offering something that they want and something that they will enjoy. If your loved one has an allergy to cats, you don’t want to bring a cat into their home.
There are so many things that you can do to give your seniors the best of their golden years. One of the most impactful things you can do is simply be present. Being involved in your senior’s life will do a lot for them. Whatever your contributions, just are sure to make them with love and respect and thoughtfulness.
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