As our parents or relatives age, it can be difficult for children to enter their new role of caregiver. It’s a natural shift but one that can sometimes be uncomfortable. One of the key roles any person can play in an aging adult’s life is to encourage them to continue living their life to its fullest. Here are a few things to keep in mind when helping an aging parent approach their later years in life.
Encourage them to explore a new purpose
Many adults as they age find themselves faced with a lack of purpose. After spending years working in careers, building households and raising families, oftentimes elderly adults are at a loss of what to spend their time doing.
Many seniors, without discovering a new sense of purpose, can feel that their prime years are behind them. In actuality, the later years of life are full of opportunity to explore interests they were never able to pursue before. It can be a great time to discover a new hobby and passion.
It can be a time to hone a skill that wasn’t given much time before like watercolor or pottery. Maybe there’s time to see what all the fuss about yoga is. Or using more free time to volunteer with a charity they never had the bandwidth to devote themselves to.
Focus on the can and not the cannots
As we age it can be difficult to not turn all focus to the things that aging does not allow us to do anymore. Instead of focusing on physical or mental limitations that naturally come with the aging process, help them to focus on the things they can do.
Perhaps they suffer from some physical limitations but are then mentally sharp as ever? Or if they have trouble completing their weekly crossword, help them focus on their ability to continue to go on walks with their family and friends. There is always a positive and it can be the job of loved ones and caregivers to help them find it.
Help them alter their perspective on aging
One of the most difficult parts of aging is that it’s perceived as a negative. Aging is a natural process and it happens to everyone. Help them alter their perspective about what getting older means. For example, if they used to be an athlete, chances are they can no longer compete in marathons. But that doesn’t mean they can’t get their heart rate up and enjoy that rush that comes from being active. If your parent or loved one enjoyed taking care of children, but no longer has children or grandchildren to dote on, perhaps it’s time to volunteer in a children’s reading program. It’s all about shifting perspective. Getting older can open up new opportunities. And it can be a great opportunity to look back on some of the great experiences people have had.