Do you have parents, grandparents, or other loved ones who are suffering from any of the long-term troubles that occur naturally in old age? Here are five ways that you can give back the love and support you received from them:
Put yourself in their place. You may think you have problems, but if you stop to think about what it might be like to be their age, that would probably give you a greater appreciation for what many elderly people go through.
Many seniors no longer have the physical capacity to do many of the things they’ve always done, which can be discouraging and lead to feelings of uselessness. Some are not able to see or hear or even eat or walk on their own, so they feel ashamed, humiliated, stripped of their dignity. Others are in almost continual pain or discomfort. Due to their weakened immune system, even minor ailments can turn into serious problems. Their bones are more fragile and their organs more delicate, and when those are broken or damaged, they require more time to heal.
Depending on their circumstances, they may worry about what will happen if their condition worsens and they don’t have anyone to take care of them, or they may dread becoming a burden to others.
Understanding and empathy go a long way in easing those hardships and alleviating those fears.
Take an interest
Some seniors may not be as strong or sharp as they once were, but the intangibles that matter most, those personal qualities that make them the unique people they are have not diminished. It is often in the later years that qualities such as love, thoughtfulness, loyalty, humility, humor, optimism, and wisdom come to full fruition.
That makes seniors some of the most fascinating people in the world. So does the fact that they have lived through times in history that those who are younger can never experience firsthand. Take the time to unearth their latent treasures, and you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find. They may even surprise themselves.
Show love and appreciation
Sometimes simply knowing that we are loved can make all the difference in how we view and deal with our present circumstances. Seniors knowing that they are appreciated for past efforts can also help them put their lives in perspective and counter feelings of regret over failures and shortcomings, both real and imagined.
Some of the saddest words ever spoken are heard at funerals: “I hope he knew how much he meant to me,” or, “I wish I’d told her more often how much I loved her.” Show love and appreciation while you can.
Help them stay active.
Numerous studies have shown that physical activity slows the aging process, which results in both prolonged life and improved quality of life. Conversely, a sedentary lifestyle increases the chances of age-related disease and premature death. Even a daily short walk in the fresh air is beneficial.
Other studies have shown that intellectual stimulation can bolster the mind and stave off memory loss in the same way that physical exercise strengthens and protects the body.
Asked why they aren’t more active physically and intellectually, some seniors say it’s because they don’t have anyone with whom they can exercise or engage in mentally challenging activities. In the absence of someone with whom to engage in those activities, seniors need encouragement to do what they can to invest in their health and well-being.
Pray for them.
Our prayers can make a difference in the lives of others. The fact that you pray for others shows that you’re concerned about their happiness and well-being, and this puts you in a position to better understand God’s loving plan for their lives and how you can help bring it to pass. When you pray for someone to not be lonely, for example, God may give you some ideas as to how you can help alleviate that loneliness—perhaps a visit, an afternoon out together, a phone call, email, or card.