No matter a person’s age, there are always emotional needs that have to be met.
For most older adults, while they may have been through some rough times in life and have therefore become more emotionally stable, they still need emotional support.
Entering old age comes with its’ own set of difficulties that older people have to deal with.
Scenarios that may cause a sense of frustration in the elderly include:
- The loss of friends and loved ones who are older as well
- Losing control over certain bodily functions
- An increased risk for certain health conditions
- A sense that they longer have anything to contribute to society/that people have forgotten their contributions
All of the above and more can cause your elderly loved one to become frustrated.
So, how do you support them in this?
In this post, we’ll talk about meeting the emotional needs of your elderly loved one.
Meeting the emotional needs of your elderly loved one
- Acknowledge their feelings – The truth is, nobody wants to feel berated for feeling the way they do about a particular situation. In this case, your elderly loved one doesn’t want to be told to “man up” or to “just get over it”. Losing friends you’ve known for a long time and losing your sense of purpose in this world are situations that cause real grief. The stages of grief were first described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969. For your elderly loved one, it is likely they are experiencing one sort of grief after the other. Acknowledge that this is a difficult time for your loved one.
- Look for symptoms of mental illness – Depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are common among the elderly. These may be tied to the scenarios I described above. Don’t dismiss any symptoms you see. In fact, you should encourage them to see and talk to a mental health professional. This can be difficult for generations who were taught to be stoic through difficult times, but it’s important that you do your best as a caregiver to encourage them to seek help.
- Know their personality – When you know the personality of your loved one, it is easy to spot any changes. Knowledge of your loved one’s personality will also allow you to design activities that will get them excited and involved.
- Encourage them to engage in activities that give them a sense of purpose – For a professional who once contributed a lot to society, no longer doing that can cause a sense of frustration. Providing your elderly loved one with an opportunity to volunteer, take active part in family activities and community activities could help them regain that sense of purpose.
- Encourage a social life – With many of their longtime acquaintances and friends dying, Mom or Dad may be feeling lonely. An adult day care community for instance, could give them the opportunity to meet new friends they can socialize with.
Emotional health is part of the total health of a person.
Taking care of and meeting those needs are important to helping your loved one enjoy a fulfilling life.
And so, these tips will help you on that quest.