These days, it seems as if there is always a new pill, health regime or treatment that promises longevity and vitality. But what if the secret to a longer, fuller life was much more simple and profound? And what if there was a way for providers of elder care in San Mateo to give it to older adults?
The secret to a happy life lies in its meaning
A new study shows that older adults who possess a sense of purpose, meaning, and direction in their lives tend to live longer than those who do not. Speculation abounds as to why this might be the case. It’s possible that people who have purpose are more likely to watch their diet, get health screenings, go for follow-up tests, and protect their general well-being. Reduced blood pressure or hormonal changes in these individuals may also be a contributing factor.
How caregivers can help
So what can caregivers – either professionals like home health aides or family and friends – do to help older adults seek meaning in their lives? The answer turns out to be quite a lot, actually! Consider the following:
Find purpose with pets. It may seem like a small thing, but the effect that pets can have on older adults (especially those who are homebound) is quite substantial. Not only do they offer unconditional love and companionship, but they also give their owners someone to look after and care for. This sense of responsibility can inspire older adults to take better care of themselves as well; they want to be around as long as possible for their pet’s sake.
Are you worried that the older adult in your life can’t manage a pet on their own? A home health aide can change the cat litter or feed the dog – in additional to doing light housekeeping and cooking for your loved one.
Get them out of the house. It’s easy to feel powerless and isolated when you’re confined to the same space every day. That’s why you may want to suggest that an older adult attend a day club or arts program, take classes or even volunteer if they’re able. If transportation to and from these activities is an issue, a homecare agency can often make an escort available for safe and easy transport. Many of these individuals are happy to provide their own vehicles for your loved one or use your family’s vehicle if that’s preferred.
There’s something about spirituality. Often, having an active religious or spiritual life can lend a greater sense of purpose to someone’s life. This added sense of meaning and purpose can take hold of a person even if the older adult involved has never seriously considered spirituality before. However, this is not to say that spirituality is a necessary component of finding meaning, so don’t try to force it on your client or loved one if they’re not interested. It’s important to remain sensitive to your loved one’s comfort zone and personal beliefs.
If they’re open to the idea, the development of a spiritual life could open up an exciting new world for an older adult. A caregiver can help by offering rides to and from a house of worship (or use the transportation ideas above). You should feel free to provide books or other educational material on your loved one’s chosen spiritual path or help them find groups of like-minded people for discussion, support, and community. If they are comfortable with it, a home health aide could even discuss some of the new and exciting ideas your loved one is taking in, as they occur. The idea is not so much that they practice a particular spirituality, so be careful not to foist your own beliefs on them. It’s more important that they investigate this area of interest in their own way, and according to their own values.
Elder care in San Mateo: a unique mission
If you provide elder care in San Mateo, then you’re in a unique position to help older adults find meaning in life. If someone that you care about seems listless or depressed and conventional medical treatments have failed, consider employing the techniques above. These ideas have the potential to grant your loved one with a new sense of purpose and meaning— and you might even learn something interesting about spirituality along the way!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.