Even though retiring is usually considered as a relaxing and laid back period of life, it can get quite lonely. Loneliness can be caused by the loss of a spouse, of friends passing away or children moving out and getting on with their lives. Even a simple thing as not being able to drive can truly isolate a person from others. These kinds of situations can cause severe isolation and sadness.
Sadly, isolation is pretty common among seniors and it has some serious health consequences. It is commonly known that lonely and sad elders live a shorter life and are at risk of health complications such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. To prevent this from happening, here’s a couple of tips on how to help older folks feel happier and live longer.
1. Being physically active
Older adults can often be found sitting in their armchairs watching telly or reading a newspaper. Besides aging, this is only one of the many reasons why their back hurts and their bones ache. They can minimize these negative effects by exercising regularly. To improve their physical and mental well-being, suggest some light exercises 3-5 times a week. It doesn’t have to be anything strenuous as there are special workout routines for the elderly. Even a walk around the neighborhood could count as an exercise.
Being physically active releases feel-good hormones and reduces risk of arthritis, chronic pain, and weight gain, and on top of that, it makes your life longer. These are only some benefits of working out. Feeling good in your body is priceless especially in the golden age.
2. Reconnect with the world
Getting old may feel hopeless at times. No matter how old we are, having friends as a part of our lives is really important. Many seniors tend to isolate themselves when their significant other passes away; which is normal to an extent. But after the grieving period is over, they should be able to get back to their lives and reconnect with people.
In case they don’t have any friends nearby, suggest that they enroll in courses for seniors such as cooking or to join book clubs and other activities at their local senior center. Another option is volunteering. It’s beneficial for them and the community, plus they can make great friends along the way. If they are lucky, they might get an opportunity to catch up with their old mates from high school or college, and reminisce about their youth together.
3. Spend time with them
Even though you’ve moved out and now have a life on your own, don’t forget to check on your parent/s from time to time. Understandably, you might not have time to visit every week, but a simple phone call can make their day better. Ask about their day and be there to listen to their problems. It surely means a lot to them.
Whenever you visit, make sure that your older family member has everything he or she needs. Help them clean the house if needed. Take them out for dinner or the art exhibition in town. Don’t neglect their feelings and talk with them about their fears and worries. You could also play board games together like The Frustration or The Clue, or find some games for senior citizens to try, but most importantly, have fun.
4. Emergencies and other life threatening-situations
As they age, most seniors would rather stay in their own houses than go to a nursing home. But there are a couple of risk factors we shouldn’t overlook. They include emergencies like injuries, falling down the stairs and getting ill. Even though many elders have a caregiver coming by every day to assist them, in some cases they might need urgent help. Consider getting them a personal medical alarm which is a safety measure that allows seniors to contact help by pressing just one button.
Regarding that, it is simple to use and is convenient for visually impaired people or dark rooms. Having a medical alarm gives the senior a sense of security, as they know the help will be there as soon as possible. This is a great gadget; it gives the user needed independence and a sense of control, while you can relax knowing your family member is able to reach help whenever they need it.
5. Generativity vs. stagnation
Once they’re retired, seniors have all the time in the world to do what they love. After fulfilling most of their life goals and aspirations, they can get into doing things they’ve always wanted to do but never had the time. Encourage them to be creative and/ or get a hobby. Creativity will make them happier.
It doesn’t have to be something conventional like sewing or knitting, there are tons of other hobbies older people can take up. For example, container gardening. It can be educational and useful for your older family members to grow and take care of plants. They can learn how to grow vegetables in pots step by step and use them later for cooking. They could also start painting or writing a book. It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Also, many seniors opt for language or even computer science classes. No wonder this period of life is called the golden age. And the best part of it all is pride they’ll feel once they finish their work.
As you can see, getting old doesn’t have to be a lonely and depressing period in your life. Even though some situations may be unpleasant, they are inevitable in this cycle called life. Remember that older adults are not kids and can take care of themselves, but be there for them anytime they need you. However, there are things we can do for our elderly to make them feel as delightful as possible. Remind them to take care of their wellbeing and encourage their creativity. After all, it’s not a coincidence this period is known as the golden age.
Mianna Korben is a writer with a passion for anything that will help her improve her life, wellbeing and set her on a path to success. She is an avid reader, coffee drinker and fitness enthusiast. When she’s not wordsmithing, she also enjoys travel and staying active.