Understanding the Emotional Needs of Seniors and How to Address ThemJuly 18, 2023
At their core, your elderly loved one has the same emotional needs as everyone else. However, aging is an, at times, frustrating and emotional experience. As medical concerns change, physical limitations arise, and living situations modify, your loved one may begin to feel lost. During this time, understanding the emotional needs of seniors and how to address them is more important than ever.
While the exact needs of a person vary from individual to individual, there are a few common needs you can expect most seniors to have.
For decades, your elderly loved one took care of themselves (and you too). When their physical and/or mental capabilities change, it is difficult to accept that they need help to continue aging in place. This is especially hard if a role reversal takes place—such as a child taking care of a parent.
How you can help:
- Respect their privacy. When a senior begins to receive care from a loved one, they may feel their privacy is being impinged upon. It’s important you give older adults the privacy they need, such as knocking on the door before you enter a room or giving them the space they need for personal care.
- Help foster a sense of purpose. Some family caregivers may be inclined to take over all of their aging loved one’s care needs once they take on the role. This, however, can lead to feelings of inadequacy and depression. Allow your loved one to take care of whatever they still can, help them develop a daily routine, and encourage them to volunteer to promote a sense of purpose.
Physical health and cognitive decline can lead to a myriad of concerns. Your loved one may be more worried than ever about injury and personal safety, which can lead to heightened anxiety. If your loved one expresses feeling vulnerable in their home, or in their life, take steps to help them feel safer.
How you can help:
- Validate their feelings. One of the worst things you can do is tell your loved one they are overreacting. Instead, try to sympathize with their situation. Give them emotional support and tools they can use to calm those fears.
- Give them tools to feel safer. If your loved one is afraid of falling when no one is around, set them up with a Life Alert device or Smart Watch that detects falls and calls the authorities. If they are paranoid in their home, install a home alarm system to give them peace of mind. Alternatively, you could hire a home caregiver who is present when you can’t be.
Though aging in place is ideal for most seniors, loneliness and isolation can be serious problems. Friends and loved ones move or pass away, giving seniors fewer opportunities to spend time with others. Depression is a serious issue for many older adults and can lead to other health conditions.
How you can help:
- Looks for signs of depression. Though common, remember that depression is not a normal part of life. If your loved one exhibits signs of depression (changes in sleep, lack of interest, mood shifts), have a candid conversation with them. Then, consider taking them to speak with a mental health professional.
- Spend quality time together. You may be physically nearby one another often, but that doesn’t mean you are spending quality time together. Make an effort to enjoy hobbies together, go on walks, or simply have thoughtful conversations. It will do more for your loved one’s mental health than you might think.
Quality care at home
When you aren’t available to offer the care your loved one needs, a caregiver can help. These professionals will support your loved one’s emotional needs while also assisting with all the activities of daily living they require help with—including medication reminders or personal care.
The staff at Home Care Powered by AUAF is on standby to help improve your loved one’s quality of life. For more information on our services, give us a call at 773-274-9262.
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