In addition to simply listening to their stories, needs, and wishes while offering them our endless love and respect, there are some things we can do to make our elders’ lives a little better as the years go on.
- Exercise: We all know that exercise can improve the health and wellness of any individual, but it becomes even more vital as life goes on and our bodies aren’t as strong or resilient as they used to be. Even if they are bound to a wheelchair, keeping elders active as much as possible could really improve their physical and mental health. There are many routines for wheelchair and chair based exercises and stretches that can be utilized to help keep the aches and pains away and improve one’s mood.
- Music and Art: Individually or combined these two things are not only great hobbies for people to have, but they are extremely therapeutic. Music is a medicine all on its own; it helps improve memory and keeps spirits up. Art can take many shapes, allowing our elders to express themselves in ways they cannot on their own. Providing these things is very easy as there are plenty of programs in communities for the elderly, as well as in the senior care and skilled nursing facilities. If the elder in your life lives in a form of assisted living, speak with their activities director to see what forms of music and art they could potentially benefit from.
- Healthy Diet: Maintaining a healthy, well-rounded diet is a hard enough thing to do as a young person in good shape. As the body ages, keeping up with a healthy diet becomes more important than ever. Eating only pop tarts for breakfast each day is not a good idea, as healthy diet has been linked to long-term memory, preventing dementia, and many other health benefits. With strong bones and immune system, an elder is fit to recover from a fall or broken limb.
- Senior Socials: Keeping busy is very important post-retirement and throughout the rest of ones life. When someone is bored, they aren’t very happy. Keeping the mind active and stress-free as it ages is a good way to stay sharp and healthy for as long as possible. Good options include senior centers, local senior meet-ups, joining them at bingo night or simply taking them out to dinner to their favorite place. As one ages and things happen to the body and mind, one loses their independence; giving them any resemblance of that self-dependence can be very helpful for their mood and overall mental health.
- Keep them Current: Teaching Grandma to use an iPad so she can play her favorite games like solitaire, Sudoku and Crossword puzzles is a great way to keep her busy, entertained and using her brain. Showing an elder how to maneuver Netflix, Email or even texting is beneficial for all involved. Being able to hand my wheelchair bound Grandma and iPad with the Netflix application open and trust that she can find her way to her favorite show is a great way to give her some independence and self made happiness. She gets to browse some of her old favorites or take suggestions from me as to what she might enjoy. Maybe the elder in your life has no interest in those silly gadgets and toys, in which case sitting down with them and reading them the daily paper is something that can be of great value. Explaining current events to them, hearing their opinions on politics and life is not only going to make them feel better and involved, you might learn a thing or two as well.