How to Care for the Emotional Needs of the Elderly
An elderly person needs to feel safe, remain close to other people and believe that his life continues to be meaningful. Meeting his emotional needs can help him avoid depression. Signs that he lacks sufficient support may include difficulty in sleeping, a poor appetite or an inability to concentrate, points out the American Association of Retired Persons 1. Emotional care for a senior should include steps designed to deal with vulnerability, loneliness, boredom and isolation.
A senior citizen may feel fearful and nervous, especially if she lives alone or has mobility problems. Support a positive outlook with practical measures to guard against intruders. Arrange for the installation of additional locks or chains and a spy-hole in the door, so she can see who is calling before she opens the door. An emergency call button could reduce her fear of failing to get help should she fall or become unwell.
Help senior citizens to maintain contact with their friends and family. Encourage visits from younger family members and use the telephone to maintain regular communication. An elderly person may find Internet access helpful when family or friends are unable to offer frequent visits, but he could need help in learning to use the technology. Use photos, books and music to help him remember happy life events and involve him in important family occasions such as marriages or new babies to help him know that he continues to be an important member of the family.
Maintaining links with her community can support an elderly person's feeling of connection with the world beyond her family. Check to make sure she does not spend all of every day alone. You may be able to arrange transport to local events, church services or shopping trips. Contact organizations in the area that may be able to offer visits or send newsletters that support her interests. Make sure she is able to manage the controls of her television or radio and that she knows how to access local channels so that she can continue to enjoy involvement with her neighborhood.
Take time to listen carefully to an elderly person. Help him continue to take responsibility for himself by discussing his needs and tailoring any interventions you make to his preferences, whether he loves ball games or prefers reading. Help him overcome any obstacles to his leisure activities that aging might cause. For example, try large print books or different spectacles to overcome visual problems that prevent him from enjoying his favorite authors. Maintain his dignity, whether he lives at home or in a care facility. Ensure he has access to his own clean clothes and that any false teeth or other prosthetics fit securely so he can feel comfortable.
Look ahead to anticipate the future needs of a senior. Her circumstances will change over time and new difficulties can arise with her physical, emotional or sensory abilities. These can damage her emotional well-being. A sudden loss of the capacity to wash or dress independently needs urgent action to provide her with personal care. Watch for any deterioration in her mood and be prepared to involve health care providers. Make sure she takes any medication exactly as prescribed. Sorting her tablets into the correct daily dose can help overcome a senior’s fear of making mistakes.
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