How To Keep Your Senior Loved Ones Happy And Healthy
The senior years of age 65 and older are often considered the person’s golden age. It is the period where an older adult experiences significant physical, physiological, and emotional changes in life. Their physical features will begin to age, their health will decline, and their bodies will lose strength and flexibility. Thus, when your parents or grandparents reach their golden age, they’ll need you and their loved ones to be there for them to offer physical and emotional support.
However, just because your senior adults are weakening or have declining health doesn’t mean they can’t live a happy and healthy life anymore. Although they won’t be strong enough to do certain things alone, it’s up to their loved ones to help them fulfill their needs. Keeping your senior loved ones happy and healthy isn’t rocket science. This blog post will discuss the following ways you can keep your senior loved ones happy and healthy and make the most of their golden years.
1. Encourage Physical Activity
As their body loses its strength, your senior loved one may also lose the motivation to pursue any physical activity. Unfortunately, living a sedentary lifestyle can harm your senior loved ones' health more than bring them good benefits. So, you must encourage them to perform physical activities by inviting them to do exercises with you. The physical activities you engage them in should be light. For instance, you can set a specific time of the day when you can go out for a 15- to 30-minute walk or jog around the neighborhood.
If they dislike going outdoors, you can accompany them to do simple exercises at home. You may also encourage them to try new hobbies that promote physical activity, such as dancing, gardening, swimming, or playing sports. Engaging in various physical activities will help promote blood flow, relieve stress and anxiety, and improve heart health. Just be sure to consult their doctor first before letting them do anything strenuous.
2. Never Forget About Their Mental Health
Besides maintaining their physical fitness, make sure you also pay attention to your senior loved one’s mental health. Remember that as one of your family members ages, their mental power also begins to degrade. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of seniors worldwide will likely experience mental health disorders. There are various risk factors and stressors for mental health issues for senior adults, such as:
- Declining functional ability
- Suffering from health conditions
- Dealing with major changes in life (e.g., retirement, bereavement, drop in socioeconomic status)
These stressors can cause isolation or psychological distress in senior adults, eventually affecting their mental health. Thus, as part of keeping them healthy and happy, encourage them to do activities that promote their mental health. Simple crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, board games, journaling, or regular book reading can help maintain your senior loved one’s mental health.
Furthermore, you may encourage them to book therapy sessions at a residential mental health treatment facility. Not only do they get professional help and individual treatment to improve their mental health, but residential treatment facilities can also provide them with a safe, comfortable, and homey environment to freely address their mental health needs. Through simple brain games, moral support from family, and individual counseling, your senior loved one can maintain their mental health, keeping them happy and healthy for life.
3. Make An Effort To Stay In Touch
One of the main reasons some senior adults experience loneliness and depression is the lack of connection with their loved ones. Sometimes, as you get so busy with your jobs and other responsibilities, you may forget to check in with your senior parents or grandparents who are living far away or are staying in an assisted living facility. Despite taking regular medications or getting proper treatment from the nursing home, your senior loved ones will still likely experience a decline in health when they’re emotionally unhappy.
So, make an effort to stay in touch with your senior loved ones as often as possible. If they’re just a few minutes or a couple of hours away, you can arrange weekly or biweekly family gatherings or picnics so everyone can make time to visit them. If they’re living in a nursing home, make it a habit to check up on them daily. If they’re out of state, you can schedule regular video calls to keep them connected. Doing this will make them feel valued and appreciated, reducing their risk of feeling alone.
4. Help Them Stick To A Healthy Diet
A balanced, healthy diet is crucial for one’s health, especially for seniors. As their body ages and loses its strength, they’ll need all the nutrients and vitamins they can get from their food to strengthen their immunity and keep them thriving in old age. However, maintaining a healthy diet won’t be easy, especially when they’re alone. Understandably, there will be days when they struggle to prepare food or shop for groceries.
If you can, help them stick to their healthy diet by assisting them during grocery shopping or food preparation. Volunteer to shop for groceries so you can control their food inventory and fill their fridge with fresh, nutritious foods and healthy snacks. You may also cook their meals to ensure they eat healthily instead of just reheating frozen food packs.
5. Eat Together
If your senior parents or grandparents live with you at home, make it a habit to eat together daily. Letting your senior loved ones eat alone in their room while the rest of the family members are at the table can make them feel lonely and like a burden. Make sure you all eat together, whether you’re dining indoors or outdoors. Eating together will help families stay connected and strengthen their bond. Most importantly, eating together with your senior loved ones will make them feel they belong and help them stay happy.
6. Encourage Them To Take Supplements
Besides the food they eat, it’s also ideal that they get extra nutrients from supplements. So, consult your senior loved one’s doctor first and ask for advice about the best supplements for their body condition and lifestyle. Generally, some of the supplements most doctors recommend for seniors are vitamins B6, B12, D, and calcium. Encouraging them to take supplements regularly can help boost their immune systems and improve their general health and wellness.
7. Help Them Get Plenty Of Rest Or Sleep
Along with a healthy diet and physical activity, make sure your senior loved one is also getting enough hours of sleep. Getting enough rest or sleep will reduce their stress levels, improve their immunity, and help their bodies repair themselves. Meanwhile, according to research, poor sleep for senior adults can cause brain impairments, leading to cognitive diseases and poor mental health.
So, if your senior loved ones are having trouble sleeping, you can help improve their sleeping environment and see if something needs to be changed. Perhaps they’re using the wrong type of mattress or pillow for their body type, or maybe their room’s temperature is too hot or cold.
You may also check if your senior loved one’s drinking too much caffeine or alcohol during the day, which might have disrupted their sleep at night. Lastly, you can help them build a bedtime routine that can help improve their sleep quality. If none of these works, take them to a neurologist for proper sleep disorder treatment.
8. Listen To And Have Conversations With Them
It may seem unrelated to their health, but having meaningful conversations with your senior loved ones is an ideal way to keep them happy. Your aging parents or grandparents have been in this world longer than you, which means they have more experiences, traditions, histories, and life tips to share with you. So, make time to have meaningful conversations with them and listen intently to their stories and family-related histories. Listening to your senior loved ones can be your way to show your honor and respect to them, which can also make them feel happy and valued.
9. Don’t Let Them Feel Stressed
At this point, your senior loved ones deserve all the best they can get, as they’ve already been through a lot during their younger years. If you’ve noticed, most seniors spend their remaining years traveling and enjoying life to the fullest as they have more time now than they ever had while they’re still actively working. So, show your support and don’t let your aged parents or grandparents stress about anything.
If they want to travel, offer to help them prearrange their itineraries so they don’t have to face any stress or hassles during their trip. If they’re having trouble managing their medications, offer to help organize their medications and help them establish a routine.
If they’re stressed about the upkeep of their house, volunteer to help them with the chores or see if they’re open to the idea of moving to an assisted living facility. While you can’t remove all the stressors in their life, you can help ease their problems and control their stress levels so they can focus on living their golden years to the fullest.
10. Help Them Find New Joy Or Meaning In Life
One of the key ingredients to living happily and healthily while aging is finding new joy or meaning in their life. As your loved one ages, they’ll experience major life changes and eventually lose the things that previously gave purpose to their lives (e.g., career, favorite sport, children moving out). Unfortunately, some seniors tend to see this negatively, so they’d start isolating themselves and be depressed in the corner, thinking their life now has no purpose.
As their family, you can help them find a new joy, purpose, or meaning in their life. Perhaps you can expose them to new kinds of hobbies and see if there’s something they’d like to pursue. Or, maybe they’d like to start a garden, open their own small business, adopt a pet, volunteer in the community, or travel. Their golden years can be an excellent opportunity to keep moving forward and try new adventures, so ensure you’re there to lead them the way and support them.
The Bottom Line
Keeping your senior loved ones happy and healthy is more than just fulfilling their medical needs. There are many ways to help them stay happy and healthy and ensure they make the most of their remaining golden years. So, remember these tips and show your senior parents or grandparents some extra love and care today so they can age gracefully and healthily.