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Living with Laughter: The Role of Joy in Caregiving

“We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.” As seniors get older, they may face many challenges in life. Loss of health or loved ones can affect them deeply. While life is filled with ups and downs for all of us and we will not be happy at every moment, it is important to try and help seniors when they are experiencing sadness. Caregivers can play a crucial role in spreading joy to those in their care. Here are four ideas to assist you in bringing happiness to a senior.

Ways to Make a Senior Smile

Encourage the use of assistive devices to maximize independence. As people age, they may become less mobile and experience difficulty performing daily tasks. They might not know how to ask for help but there are several products they can use to make their life simpler and more comfortable. Reach out to your healthcare provider for a PT/OT consult to ensure that you are using the correct devices for your particular needs and that they are adjusted with your health plan in mind. Below are some ideas to get you started.

If your senior loved one is having a hard time walking, they can use an indoor scooter or walker to help them get around the house. It may also be helpful to have a shower seat or grab-bars installed in their bathroom, to assist them in safely moving around the room.

Seniors experiencing dexterity issues can also utilize products to make their life easier, such as an electric toothbrush. Additionally, there are a variety of finger gripping tools and hand-strengthening squeeze balls which older adults can use to assist with improving hand function.

Ask for their stories. Just like all of us, older adults want to know that their life has meaning. Ask them to tell you about one of their favorite memories – for example, “What did you enjoy doing most as a kid?” “Did you have a favorite pet when you were growing up?" "What has brought you the most joy in life?” It’s important to listen closely and ask relevant questions as they share details from their life.

Many seniors feel like no one remembers them or that they are a burden to their loved ones. You can counteract these feelings by asking to know more about them and their past. They will feel fulfilled in sharing the favorite parts of their life journey with you. Just keep in mind that seniors may not always feel like talking and that’s okay too. Give them a chance to share if they are comfortable but don’t pressure them to have a conversation if they are not in the mood.

Find classes that align with their interests. Boredom is a very common occurrence amongst older adults. There are several classes they can take to help fill their time with enjoyable activities. Here is a list of a few that they can try:

Activities for Seniors

  • Yoga. There are many yoga classes designed specifically for seniors. Yoga can help calm the mind and body, especially yoga exercises that are slow and gentle. Seniors with limited mobility can try doing chair yoga which will allow them to increase strength, flexibility and breath awareness, all from a seated position. Check your local YMCA to see if they have yoga classes or other fitness activities that your senior loved one would like to participate in. There are also many YouTube channels which teach yoga that the senior in your care can use to perform exercises in the comfort of their home!
  • Painting. If you know a senior who enjoys being creative, get them involved in a painting class. Art is an excellent form of self-expression and a great outlet for seniors to share their experiences with the world. Studies have shown that art therapy has many benefits, both physical and mental, for seniors. Picking up a paintbrush can help seniors keep their motor skills sharp and improve hand-eye coordination. The bright, vibrant colors can boost their mood and help reduce depression or anxiety. Painting can also assist seniors with concentration skills and memory, all while improving confidence and giving them a sense of control.
  • Cooking. Who doesn’t love good food? Your senior loved one may want to use their free time in retirement to learn some new cooking skills and recipes. There are a variety of cooking classes for every cuisine, ranging from Mexican, to Italian, to Middle Eastern, to BBQ, and French pastries. There are many cooking classes geared towards seniors which may offer advice regarding specific diets, such as making nutritious meals or meals with low salt content. These classes can be taken in-person which allows seniors to make social connections and establish friendships. Or, for the senior who has a hard time getting out or who prefers to take classes from the comfort of home, there are several online options as well!

Treat them with compassion. When interacting with parents, grandparents and other loved ones, it’s important to remember to speak with compassion. Seniors want to know that their voice matters and that they will be treated with dignity. We should strive to always speak to seniors with care, patience, and respect, being mindful of any physical or mental challenges they are experiencing. If you can do this, you will see that your efforts go a long way in bringing joy to seniors and making them feel appreciated.

Homewatch CareGivers was founded on the idea that individuals should receive kind, compassionate, and qualified care tailored to their unique needs and in their preferred surroundings. We train our professionals not just on high-quality care but on interpersonal relationships as well. Call a location near you today to learn more about the services we offer and our person-centered approach to care.

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