Some seniors head into their golden years feeling less than enthusiastic — and it’s understandable why. Many seniors, especially those without regular interaction and support, spend these years in physical decline and isolation. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it?
But many seniors actually experience the exact opposite of this trend and find a lot of enjoyment in retirement. Here’s how you can help your senior family members, neighbors, and friends regain their sense of freedom and independence during this season of their lives.
Start with the basics. As seniors’ bodies age, many suffer from health problems and need to work closely with their physicians to maintain good health. Unfortunately, most seniors have difficulty with this due to lack of mobility, dependence on others for transportation, and memory loss.
Some seniors and their families will have the resources for them to live in a retirement community where they can get the extra care and attention they need. But this option might not be available or necessary for all families. This is where you can come to the rescue.
Keeping in touch with aging relatives on a daily (or at least, a weekly) basis can really go a long way in helping maintain their health. If they live in a retirement facility, they’ll have staff attending to their needs. But for those who still live independently, you’re their lifeline.
Check-in on these seniors frequently to help them schedule appointments. Drive them to appointments or arrange transportation as needed. Help them keep up with their daily medications, too. And encourage them to not only visit doctors when sick, but to take preventive action with regular dental checkups and eyeglass prescription renewals.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Use it or lose it.” For seniors, this is a daily mantra. Many people tend to take it for granted that you just get weaker and sicker as you get older, accepting it as inevitable. But studies have shown that seniors who engage in regular exercise can develop stronger bones, muscles, and joints, even if they begin later in life.
Help the seniors in your life get out for some exercise. Many gyms and community centers offer exercise classes just for seniors; some of these classes are even held for free. And if “exercise” isn’t their thing, let them rack up some exercise without even realizing it. Daily activities like opening doors, cooking meals, carrying groceries, pulling weeds, and walking to the mailbox can all keep a senior adult in shape.
As the years pass, many seniors begin to lose mobility regardless of their activity level. At some point, walking without assistance may not be a possibility, and some will eventually be unable to walk at all.
This can be incredibly discouraging, but there are solutions. An electric wheelchair or scooter is a good option for seniors who need it. Many healthcare plans offer affordable or even free options for seniors.
When looking for an electric wheelchair, try to find one that’s simple to operate, can be used both indoors and outdoors, and is easily portable, like this.
Technology of all kinds can open up the world to many seniors who would otherwise be living in isolation. For seniors who can’t get out much, digital technology can help them stay in touch with friends and family.
A senior-friendly smartphone or tablet is a great choice. Many useful apps today can enable seniors to:
- Communicate by video chat
- Order groceries for delivery
- Arrange transportation
- Get reminders to take medications
- Hire contractors for home repairs, plumbing, etc.
Most seniors will benefit by having someone spend a little time with them each week to show them how to use their mobile devices. Repetition is crucial to help seniors learn to use these gadgets and apps.
Be patient during these technology lessons! While many of us have grown up using these devices daily, most seniors have never used anything like this. Have patience and keep encouraging them to use the tech at their disposal.
Seniors face many challenges as they age. That’s just part of life. But with a little help from friends, family, and neighbors, they can still live a life that’s full of rich experiences, social interaction, freedom, and dignity.