Getting older is hard. Most of us look forward to our retirement, and while reaching this age means that we no longer have to work for a living, it also means that we no longer see friends and colleagues every day, and that we no longer have a full schedule or demands on our time. Passing the retirement age can also mean that our bodies start to feel their age. Aches and pains set in, things start to go wrong, and we find that we are suddenly visiting the doctor more than we ever have before.
All of this can mean that once we’re in our senior years, far from enjoying the freedom of not having to work 9-5 every day, we’re bored, lonely, and tired. We might be facing the death of loved ones, poor health, and a distinct lack of purpose. It’s not always the joyful time that we’d hoped that it would be.
But it can be. If you are looking to help a loved one transition into the next phase of their life, there are plenty of things that you can do to improve their wellbeing. Here are some essential tips.
1. Maintain Mobility
Mobility is different for all seniors. Some will be hitting the gym well into their 80s, at a time when other older people might be struggling to get off the couch. Range of mobility often depends on health and fitness, as well as their habits and confidence.
But, whatever levels of mobility an older person is working with, it’s incredibly important. Staying mobile helps them stay fit and healthy and perhaps even build their fitness levels and stamina, which can improve their health, boosting circulation, decreasing blood pressure, and reducing inflammation and stiffness.
Staying mobile, however, is about much more than exercising muscles and joints and boosting heart rate. Helping an older relative to be more mobile can also give them a massive mental health boost. Moving more can help to prevent loneliness and isolation. It can boost confidence, and give your loved one the chance to see friends and family, enjoy hobbies and pursuits, and stay both mentally and physically active.
If you have an older relative struggling to stay mobile, give them the tools they need. This might mean looking at electricwheelchairsusa.com or booking some exercise classes. You could spend some time walking with them or showing them exercise videos for older people online. Show them more options, take them out, and encourage them to try new things to aid their mobility.
2. Encourage Independence
Mobility and essential aids like a wheelchair can provide a massive boost to independence. But, when you’ve been out of work for a while, it’s easy to get into the habit of staying in and only doing things you are comfortable with. The world around you changes quickly, and quite suddenly, you are uncomfortable going out alone and unsure about yourself.
Encourage your older friend or relative to go out alone, and to do small things for themselves. Even a short walk can be liberating and confidence-boosting.
Support a senior with their independence by trying not to offer to do everything for them. Instead, offer to do things with them, or to drop them off and pick them up at their destination, instead of offering to go in with them.
At the same time, you need to recognize their limitations (even if they don’t) and be aware of how quickly things will change. As they get older, the things that they can comfortably do independently will start to reduce, and you may need to offer greater support.
3. Reconnect with Friends
Retirement can be a very lonely time. Not all of our friends will retire at the same time, and some will move away once they quit work. Suddenly, a full diary becomes bare, and the hustle and bustle of a working life dulls to silence.
The good news is, reaching out to old friends is easier than it has ever been before. Help your senior get set up on social media and look for people they’ve worked or studied with in the past. Don’t be scared to reach out – what’s the worst thing that can happen?
If they are looking to make new connections, volunteering is a great opportunity. Talk to them about offering their services at local libraries or charity stores. Even if it’s just a few hours a week, it helps to beat loneliness, boost mobility and independence, and keep their mind active. Explore possibilities together, and talk to them about what they might enjoy doing.
4. Try New Hobbies
New hobbies are also great ways to keep the mind active and meet new people. If there are grandkids around, they can be an excellent source of ideas for things to do. Spend time together as a family. Play video games together, and talk about what is going on at school. Hobbies like crafting and baking are great for sharing with different generations.
You could also take your older relative to your local community center or look at local groups online to see if any activities could be appropriate. Try crafting hobbies, or even consider starting a group of your own for other people in your area looking for company and stimulation.
5. Stay Up to Date with Health Screenings
Older people are often guilty of attributing all symptoms to normal aging. While sometimes this is true, it’s still important that they attend any regular screenings, dentist appointments, and health exams.
If you are concerned about a loved one, or any symptoms they are struggling with, encourage them to see a doctor. If they refuse or keep putting it off, speak to the doctor yourself for advice if you feel you need to.
6. Find Support
Unfortunately, another side effect of getting older is that we start to lose people that we care about. While we face loss as younger people too, they seem to come much faster as we reach a certain age. Make sure your loved one has a support system in place and that they can talk about loss. It never gets easier to lose someone, and we all need support when it happens.
There are some great benefits to getting older, but only if we care for each other, take steps to boost wellbeing, and look after ourselves.