The emotional needs of the elderly really aren’t any different than the rest of us. Your elderly loved one needs to feel safe, remain close to others, and believe his or her life is meaningful. Unfortunately, these needs can often go unmet in the elderly.
When an elderly person lacks sufficient support, you may notice that he or she:
- has difficulty sleeping
- has a poor appetite
- struggles to concentrate
It’s incredibly important to take note of the signs and take steps to meet the emotional needs of your loved one, before depression sets in. These steps will deal with vulnerability, loneliness, boredom, and isolation.
Steps Toward Meeting Emotional Needs
We can’t know for sure what the future holds, but as our loved one grow older, there are things we can anticipate happening that will cause emotional difficulties. For example, it’s likely they will lose some independence and need assistance with every day tasks. Vision or speech may begin to deteriorate. These can be very scary things to experience. If we anticipate these types of situations and have plans in place, we’ll be helping our loved one feel more secure.
Encourage Leisure Activities
As your loved one ages, he may lose the ability to enjoy his favorite leisure activities. Talk to him about what he loves and work through ways to help him continue to participate. For example, if he loves to read but is unable to see as well, find large print books or download audiobooks on a device. If he’s a huge fan of baseball, take him to a game or sit with him while he watches one on TV. He may not be able to enjoy these activities in quite the same way as before, but doing what he can will go a long way in fulfilling his needs.
Take note of your loved one’s overall hygiene. Does she have clean clothes? Has her hair been washed recently? She may need more help than you’ve realized. Allow her to take responsibility for her own care, but fill in where necessary. Ensure that she feels comfortable and never feels loss of dignity.
Living alone, especially if there’s mobility problems, can make a senior citizen fearful and nervous. Give your loved one the importance sense of security through practical measures. Have additional locks and a spy-hole installed on the doors. An emergency call button will ease some fear knowing that she could get help should she fall or become sick.
Help your loved one get out into the community. Bring him to church with you. Set up outings to local events. Get him the local paper subscription and make sure he has access to the local news channel. You may be able to find an organization that will send volunteers to visit. Most importantly, make sure you and your family visit your loved one regularly. Include him in family events. Stop in just to say hi. You’ll be giving his life meaning as you show him how important he still is to those he loves.