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Encouraging Independence in Seniors - Maintaining Quality of Life
As a caregiver, it is important to encourage independence in seniors and to provide the opportunity for them to maintain a better quality of life for themselves. By participating in activities with your senior loved one, you show that you care, and you help improve their overall health. In fact, research indicates that keeping seniors physically, mentally, socially and emotionally engaged can help them retain better cognitive function, stay healthier and live independently longer.
As the seniors in our lives grow older, daily interaction is vital to their health and happiness. However, when caring for them, it is easy to get into the habit of doing things "for" them rather than "with" them. Let's face it -- it can be more efficient to do everything yourself. Seniors are seasoned pros at doing things for themselves, but due to aging bodies or underlying health issues, aspects of everyday living sometimes become a bit more physically and mentally challenging. Seniors may need your help, but doing everything for them is not a good solution, nor does it cultivate a better quality of life. Instead, we recommend a technique called interactive caregiving.
Interactive caregiving is a method of caring for seniors that promotes physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. When put into action, this philosophy focuses on the person as a whole, helps seniors live the highest possible quality of life by keeping them happy and engaged, and fosters healthy independent living within their own homes.
The true art of caregiving for the elderly extends beyond task-oriented responsibilities and includes engaging in activities that help maintain a healthy spirit and body. Talk to the senior in your life to help determine what his interests are, then form a plan to do those things together. When planning your activities, keep the elements of interactive caregiving in mind.
- Physical activity, which should always be approved by the senior's physician, helps reduce the severity of illness, increases strength and reduces the risk of falling. Dancing can reduce high blood pressure, strengthen bones and lower the risk of heart disease. Dancing with friends also provides a social outlet that stimulates the mind and can reduce the effects of dementia. Activities such as gardening and house keeping inspire positive self-esteem and improve quality of life.
- Socializing with family and friends, as well as attending parties or other events, makes seniors feel less isolated and promotes good memory retention. The effects of being socially active are just as beneficial as physical activity in terms of self-esteem and higher quality of life, which is important to note for seniors who are unable to exercise.
- Mental stimulation, such as crossword puzzles or other brain games, keeps minds active and facilitates healthy mental and emotional function. Mental well-being fosters a sharp mind and a positive outlook on life.
- Emotional well-being depends on several factors, such as feeling connected to family and friends, being involved in the community or taking on a hobby. Emotional stability helps seniors feel happy and optimistic, which can keep depression at bay.
Encourage seniors to help with tasks they are able to perform, such as folding laundry and writing a grocery list. Play a game or work on a puzzle, read the paper over a morning cup of coffee or take a walk together after lunch. Shopping together provides another form of exercise and the chance to do something together. Planting flowers and other gardening activities are not only fun, they also provide a sense of accomplishment when you both step back to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
There are many more activities that can improve the quality of life for seniors. Use your imaginations and work together to plan fun things that will transform even the most mundane daily activities into special memories that last a lifetime.