How do you facilitate a loved one aging with grace when life can really get them down? Adults over 65 were more likely than those 50-64 to report “rarely” or “never” receiving necessary social or emotional support according to the CDC. Read on for my tips:
-Accept them where they’re at. We often get easily frustrated with someone who is older when they become incapable of doing the things they used to do. But we have to recognize and be mindful that there are some things they may not be able to do as well, as easily, or at all. Its also extremely important to be mindful that a person may not be safe doing some of the things s/he may have been used to doing. Car keys may need to be taken away, suitcases may need to be carried up the stairs by someone else, and hearing aids may be necessary.
-Aid them negotiating bodily and emotional changes. It can be so difficult for someone to accept these changes or accept that a child or a grandchild is noticing these types of changes. If its available to you, get someone else involved. If your loved one can no longer safely cook for him/herself, get someone who can provide food assistance, make a doctor’s appointment if they seem as though they may be unfit to drive (usually physicians can request someone take a repeat driving exam).
-Help the person do something or spend time with someone they enjoy. Any little thing that can bring this person joy is helpful. And make sure you make time for them. Many older adults get ignored and what they really need is some love and compassion.
-If someone seems really down, bring them to talk with someone. Most long-term care facilities, typically called nursing homes, provide talk therapy services. Take advantage of these or bring your loved one in for outpatient talk therapy.
-Take care of yourself and work to not resent the person. You must give to yourself, in order to have enough resources to give of yourself to others. Much like an oxygen mask on an airplane, you must ensure you are getting enough sleep, eating well and getting exercise, so that you can provide your aging relative with the love and physical and emotional care they deserve.