In the century between 1900 and 2000, the average life expectancy in the US increased by about 3 decades. That is a lot of improvement. However, does it mean that those extra 30 years had the same (or better) quality than the ones preceding them? Getting to an old age means you get to the point where your children have grown up and left the nest, and you have long retired. What do you do then?
The way seniors perceive themselves, as well as the way they are perceived by their loved ones, has a significant impact on their health, both physically and psychologically.
Seniors with a sense of purpose tend to be more resistant to such things as strokes, heart attacks, and even cognitive impairment. They’re also more likely to live longer than counterparts who lack a sense of purpose. This is because seniors with a sense of purpose are more likely to be physically active and are less susceptible to stress. They also take much better care of themselves. Physical activity is a powerful kind of medicine, slowing down, and even sometimes reversing, physical incapacity.
So how can the quality of life of a senior be improved? In this article, we shall explore just that. Here are 7 tips to make the magic happen.
1. A unique sense of purpose
No matter what age a person is, they need to have meaning in their life. That meaning is often supplied by a combination of having a sense of purpose, being valued, and having a sense of belonging. Unfortunately, seniors are sometimes dismissed as no longer being valuable, with the common impression being that they don’t have as much to offer as they did in their youth. The worse problem is that some seniors have adopted this attitude toward themselves.
The truth, however, is that seniors have a lot to give. They have knowledge, wisdom, creativity, and more than enough love to go round. For a senior to thrive, they need to create a sense of purpose for themselves, which grounds them in their identity. They also need to feel loved, respected, and involved by others.
2. Be goal-oriented
It is in our nature to want to do something. When we’re young, we make lofty goals. The younger we are, often, the more grandiose the goals. Quite often, the tragedy of youth is having goals that are either unrealistic, or simply too many for us to attain all of them in a lifetime. The tragedy of old age is that we often have no goals at all.
Tying in with the tip above on having a unique sense of purpose, it is important for seniors to create goals for their daily life, no matter how small. It might be a goal as simple as eating a bowl of healthy fruit salad every day, or it might be something a little more involving, such as finishing a still life painting every week.
Whatever goals are set, what is most important is that goals are set. Small, attainable, and satisfying to achieve goals help give meaning to each day, and adds to the quality of life of a senior.
3. Keep your mind fit
The bane of old age for many seniors is the loss of their cognitive faculties. Many older folk succumb to debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Sure, these are extremes, but the loss of at least some cognitive functions is a constant concern for many older people.
One way to fight this is to never stop using those functions. The mind is a muscle like any other, following the heuristic that if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Seniors who continue to apply their cognitive capabilities, as well as continually improve them through learning, are able to prevent and fight the onset of cognitive impairment.
Whatever your intellectual interests, pursue them with as much fierceness in old age as you did in your youth. Look through sites that offer research paper help to find interesting material to read, or read a book, or try to make something by yourself. The end result will be a mind that is fit well into your senior years.
4. Keep your body fit
Apart from the mind, the body also needs to stay fit, otherwise it is likely to waste away from a lack of use. But it’s not just that, there is a connection between your physical and emotional health. Even a little exercise will not only be of great benefit to your body, but will also instill in your feelings of confidence, independence, and pride in your achievements. These feelings promote a sense of vitality, and a general optimism about what is to come in life.
5. Promote connection
A major cause of depression is loneliness. It affects everyone, no matter what the age. For a senior, the best way to battle loneliness is to be in regular connection with loved ones, including friends and family. But it doesn’t just end there. A senior should also take any opportunity they get to engage those around them. Something as simple as greeting a neighbor can improve how someone feels about themselves and lessen feelings of loneliness. The trouble with loneliness is that lonely people often feel the urge to avoid others and stick by themselves, further exacerbating the situation. That is why it is important to constantly reach out and engage with others to avoid that. Try to join groups that have similar interests, forcing you to go out into the world and engage with others. This will reduce feelings of loneliness.
6. Look out for and respond to signs of depression
Seniors are more prone to depression once they cross a certain age. It can be caused by many things, such as the loss of their role as parent, retirement, death of a loved one, chronic illnesses robbing them of their independence, or even a move into a home for the elderly.
Depression is a serious disorder that doesn’t have to be considered a normal part of aging. A senior’s family and friends should encourage them to seek out treatment if they show signs of depression, including irritability, loss of interest in the things that they once liked, persistent sadness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia or hypersomnia, fatigue, and aches and pains that don’t seem to have a physical cause.
Old age is such a vulnerable stage of life, and depression can be even more debilitating at this age than it might be for younger people. Here the loved ones of a senior person are crucial to making them feel loved and fulfilled, and to help them fight off the specter of depression.
7. Ask them for help
Just because someone is old doesn’t mean they have lost all vitality. Many people avoid asking seniors for help, which only serves to degrade them, both physically and psychologically. Part of a senior’s sense of purpose is to feel needed. It is a massive ego boost that can do wonders to improve the quality of life of a senior. Even more importantly, no one likes to feel like a burden. If you want to make your senior loved one feel needed, ask them for help on things they can do, even if it’s dissertation help. By letting them help you, you will be greatly helping them.
These are just a few tips you can use to help the senior in your life have a higher quality life, or to improve the quality of your life if you are a senior. They are not only a few, but they are also quite effective. Try them and see your life change significantly for the better.