Old age can be stressful for senior citizens in many ways. Considering the changes in different aspects of their life, it is more of a transitional phase for seniors, as their children may have moved out and settled in far off places with their spouses, professional life may have officially come to an end they may physically be experiencing many difficulties as well.
For all these reasons, there is a higher chance for depression and related mental health conditions among senior citizens, especially for the ones who are living alone. There is already quite a lot for them to deal with, and when combined with the lack of social interaction, it can get all the more difficult.
According to several epidemiological studies, social interaction is actually particularly important for senior citizens. Studies have shown that even a moderately active social life can bring about a number of health benefits including reduced risk of depression, improved cognitive health and even relief in terms of physical disabilities for senior citizens.
However, in Canada, studies show that the elderly population is growing increasingly lonely. This is especially true in case of seniors whose spouses may have passed and whose children may have migrated to different countries. In fact, since a major share of the population being seniors, is experiencing the painful loneliness, it is often called as a public health crisis. As per statistics, as many as 1.4 million seniors are reported to be feeling lonely.
Clearly, the seniors in Canada are in dire need of social interactions. It is often seen that seniors end up feeling lonely even when the house is filled with family members.
It is important for children or grandchildren to arrange a primary caregiver for their senior loved ones who are living alone. And as for the seniors who are already living with family, care should be taken to ensure that there is always someone for them to interact with.
Dr. Cristian Palitza of HaloHealthCare.com says that it is up to the caregivers or the family members living with the seniors to make sure that their senior is not feeling lonely, and is comfortable.
For this, there are a few things that the caregivers can do to keep their senior loved ones engaged and happy.
Here are 5 tips for keeping your elderly loved ones happy and comfortable even during family gatherings.
Involve them in the preparation process
Seniors may be experiencing physical limitations. But that shouldn’t keep them from being able to play an active part in family gatherings or other similar celebrations. You can have them do simple and effortless tasks while you’re preparing for the gathering. For example, you can have them fold the napkins for the table, or fill glasses with ice, or even do some minor kitchen-work that doesn’t involve cooking. It will make them feel helpful and more of a part of the family than a guest.
Have them interact with young children
Children have an infectious positive energy and innocence that can instantly light up the lives of people. Having your seniors spend more time with the children in the family during social gatherings will not only make them feel happier and positive, but it will also improve the bond between the children and their grandparents. Children are always happy to express their love, and this will in turn make your seniors feel valued and worthy of living. You can also hand over the infants in the family to be taken care of by the seniors.
Make sure to involve them in natural conversations with all family members
While it is good and important to have everyone in the gathering talk to your senior loved ones individually, it is also important not to make it seem sympathetic. Instead of having them sit elsewhere, make sure to include them in spaces where everybody is. For example, if everyone is engaged in activities in the living room, make the effort to bring your senior to the same room and keep them engaged in the natural conversations.
Seniors may have a lot of stories to tell, about many things in life owing to their experiences. It is always good to allow them to share their experiences with the gathering. Discussing family history, or taking a walk down memory lane with old photo albums etc. are good ways to get them talking. This will make them feel happier and content in having lived a happy life.
Have more conversations instead of music
It is common practice to have music playing in the background during gatherings. But with seniors around, it is always good to keep the volume down and have more conversations as seniors may have hearing or speaking difficulties. Loud music may make them leave the room or the scenario, leading them in to loneliness. Conversing with them is the best way to keep them engaged and happy.