Ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Maybe you didn’t get a good night’s sleep or it was something you ate. Perhaps there’s no real reason you feel irritable and grumpy, but there it is and you have to deal with it.
It’s hard enough trying to get through a rough day when you’re the one experiencing it, but for older adults it can be even harder. If you’re able-bodied and have a good support system, you can usually cope with the emotional hiccups that come with life. But seniors who face multiple health problems and social isolation aren’t so lucky. We examine some ways you can help turn things around when providing home care for elders.
Home Care for Elders that Emphasizes Caring
As we mentioned, a single bad day can happen to anyone. But such days tend to “gang up” on older adults, especially when illness, pain, and degenerative conditions take their toll.[1. “Health status and risk for depression among the elderly: a meta-analysis of published literature,” November 10, 2009, https://ageing.oxfordjournals.org/content/39/1/23.full.pdf] Having to deal with these unpleasant circumstances on a constant basis would make anyone feel foul. Unfortunately, it can detract from more than the older adult’s state of mind. Being in a poor temper can interfere with your attempts to provide care. So with that in mind, here are a few ways to turn things around—fast!
Remember the Good Times
Sit down with the older individual and reminisce about their favorite moments. You can use photo albums, old movies, or favorite records. Sights and sounds can hold great power in taking people back to particular moments in time.
And Plan for Future Good Times!
It’s hard to feel cheerful when you think all of your best experiences are behind you. But this doesn’t need to be the case for your loved one! In addition to reminiscing about days gone by, plan something for them to look forward to. It could be as simple as a dinner with family or outlining which television shows you’ll watch together during the coming week.
Arrange for a Change in Scenery
It can be hard to feel happy when your environment is always the same. The human mind is designed to grow bored with repetition, and boredom breeds discontent. A change in surroundings—however brief —may be enough to lend a brighter perspective to the day. Get outside to the backyard or park. Nature is especially helpful in uplifting one’s mood. But even indoor destinations, such as movies, museums, or malls, can all be viable options.
Ask the Individual What’s Bothering Them
If the person you’re caring for is in a bad mood and you can’t determine why, consider simply asking them. And if they respond, be sure to really listen and perhaps avoid always offering advice. Bear in mind that there may not be something specific bothering them, but more a general sense of dissatisfaction or malaise. Besides getting a psychological consult[2. “Detecting and Screening for Depression in Older Adults,” 2011, https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/754175], there may be little more you can do for the person than offer emotional support and a listening ear. However, sometimes, that can be enough.
Have Positive Expectations
We tend to take on an exasperated (or sometimes resigned) tone with someone when we think they’re being difficult. This can lead to a negative cycle in which the person responds to our voice and manner in kind. There’s a saying: “No one rises to low expectations.” In every interaction, act like you believe the other person will respond positively, even if they don’t.
Providing Better Home Care for Elders Has a Ripple Effect
A strange thing happens when you provide better home care for elders. When you make the decision to actively choose joy over more negative (though understandable) emotions, it can create a ripple effect. You may notice that you have a more positive perspective in your own life. This may be partly the result of making optimism a habit. Or it could stem from knowing that while you can’t always change your circumstances, you can always change the way you look at them!
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.