What Seniors Really Need | Lifestyle of the inquirer

ILLUSTRATION BY ALBERT RODRIGUEZ

“Caring for those who once looked after us is one of the highest honors.” (Tia Walker, author)

When I moved into my new home in April, I realized that because of government restrictions on large gatherings, I would not be able to do the usual one-time initiation for family, relatives, and friends. So I decided to only hold small get-togethers for compatible groups from time to time. I felt that intimate lunches or dinners were conducive to effective bonding with people I had barely seen since the lockdowns began last year.

The first person that came to mind was a close relative I grew up with, who I hadn’t seen in a while, and whose birthday I remembered was getting closer and closer. Since he lived alone in a condo, I decided to take him out for lunch and he was very happy to be picked up by my driver.

We enjoyed the whole afternoon remembering our younger days. It was already evening by the time I took him home and I realized that interacting with his peers was a special treat for him as he didn’t go out for long. He called me several times afterwards to thank me and tell me how much he had enjoyed that day. I assured him that we would meet again soon.

Largely neglected

I had another close friend, a former classmate, who called me before the pandemic to ask if he could rent a room in the house I was building. I couldn’t commit myself and told him it would be some time before the house was ready. He also lived alone and had his own apartment, which he probably wanted to sell, but I sensed that he was really missing and was looking for company. Unfortunately, a few months later, he died of a heart attack at home all by himself.

One of my sons-in-law is a personal trainer who specializes in physical fitness and rehabilitation for seniors who takes care of them at home. He often tells my daughter that he listens to his clients as much as he guides them through their exercise routine.

He says that some of the mostly one-sided conversations are pleasant enough, but some are relaxation sessions for expressing pent-up feelings about many things, including complaints against their children and other people. His conclusion is that these older customers need someone to talk to that they don’t get much from in their own household. This situation appears to be common among older people who live alone or are largely neglected wherever they live.

The seniors in our residential village are probably more lucky, because here we have a strong sense of community and many opportunities for positive social interaction. We have a family-oriented country club that hosts many regular, close-knit groups in a range of sports – golf, tennis, badminton, bowling, dance practice, etc., many of which are senior citizens.

In our village there are also informal senior groups who meet regularly for breakfast, lunch or dinner, as well as hiking groups, a garden club, a very active senior citizens’ association and several church lay organizations in which many senior citizens are active. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, these groups have scaled back or suspended their personal activities.

As people get older, they increasingly rely on the help of others – with managing their everyday lives, physical and mental health, personal safety, managing their finances, and many other things that they previously did themselves.

Personal and social interaction

But seniors have one important need, and that applies in any situation – the psychological need for personal and social interaction. Their loved ones, especially their children, must be constantly aware of this, especially during this time of the pandemic and enforced lockdowns.

An article by Claire Samuels, titled “Facts About Elderly Isolation and the Effects of Loneliness That Stun You,” states that while lockdowns and social restrictions helped keep seniors safe, so did interactions with friends and Have restricted family. Research suggests that this isolation can lead to depression, weight loss, cognitive decline, and other medical complications (aplaceformom.com).

Citing various sources, the same article lists some of the specific effects of isolation: significantly higher blood pressure and stress in lonely people, especially seniors; unhealthy habits, such as excessive smoking and drinking; Neglect of physical activity; and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

For this reason, it is important that the family, especially the children of the elderly, find some effective interventions, such as: B. encouraging determination (e.g. volunteering in the community or an interesting hobby they can get involved in); Providing transportation to enable them to get around; get them a pet to look after; encourage regular exercise; Help with doctor visits; make interacting with family and friends a priority (Dana Larsen, aplaceformom.com).

In my case, I can say that I am very blessed to have five super caring daughters who always take care of their eighty year old father, who often forgets that he is no longer a boy. Not only did they help me build and furnish my new home, but one of them practically took over the operation and maintenance. And I strongly suspect that they have an agreement that at least one of them and their family come to visit me every weekend. A parent of advanced age cannot ask for more. – CONTRIBUTED INQ

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