As people get older, they may start to feel depressed or feel like a burden to their loved ones. We can help our aging loved ones combat these feelings by helping them improve their quality of life. But what does “quality of life” mean? And how can we help our elderly loved ones achieve it? In this post, we will attempt to answer these questions.
Understanding Quality of Life in Old Age
The meaning of quality of life for older adults can be subjective but research has shown similarities. Pew Research Center compiled findings in their 2013 study Views on End-of-Life Medical Treatments and discovered the following details on quality of life in old age:
- Adults who expect their lives to improve within the next decade
- 71% under age 50
- 46% aged 50-64
- 19% aged 75 and older
- Adults who believe quality of life is determined by being able to talk and communicate
- 46% aged 50-64
- 45% aged 65-74
- 38% aged 75 and older
- Adults who believe quality of life is determined by living without severe, lasting pain
- 43% aged 50-64
- 33% aged 65-74
- 35% aged 75 and older
- Adults who believe quality of life is determined by feeling what one does is worthwhile
- 33% aged 50-64
- 28% aged 65-74
- 25% aged 75 and older
- Adults who believe quality of life is determined by being able to dress oneself
- 37% aged 50-64
- 37% aged 65-74
- 36% aged 75 and older
While it can be difficult to figure out what improves quality of life in elderly people, Pew outlines the importance of communication. Listen to your loved one about how you can help make their life more meaningful. In the next section, we will review ways to improve the quality of life for the elderly.
Tips for Improving Quality of Life in the Elderly
From regular exercise to social interaction, there are numerous ways for your elderly loved one to improve their quality of life.
- Treat depression.
- Depression affects more than 6 million people over age 65. This can be caused by stressful life circumstances such as losing a spouse, retirement, being unable to live at home, or clinical symptoms.
- Depression can be the leading cause of suicide, heart attacks, and cardiac diseases.
- To treat symptoms, your loved one should receive help from a psychologist, therapist, or counselor.
- Encourage social interaction.
- Seniors can often feel isolated as they age, especially if they have limited mobility. These seniors are at greater risk for dementia or shorter lifespans.
- Schedule regular visits and family outings to decrease isolationism.
- Even something simple such as a weekly lunch or a walk in the park can provide necessary companionship.
- Exercise regularly and spend time outdoors.
- Regular exercise in elderly improves quality of life by preventing stroke and heart disease, boosting your immune system, relieving anxiety, improving sleep, lowering blood pressure and improving overall stamina. According to a study in The Pan African Medical Journal, seniors who exercised three times per week had higher social functioning and vitality.
- Create a green space for your loved one to grow a garden and interact with something natural. These activities can be calming and promote further exercise.
- Exercise mentally too.
- Trivia, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku can help improve overall cognitive functions.
- Asking your loved one to share stories of their past can help combat cognitive impairments of dementia and Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, asking for their wisdom can help them feel valued and important.
- Make them feel useful.
- Older adults may sometimes fear they are becoming a burden or are unwanted. Asking for their help in menial tasks such as folding laundry, preparing dinner, or running errands can make them feel worth.
- Ask for help with tasks appropriate for their abilities. The important thing to do is to make them feel useful and needed. Do you already have grocery coupons saved on your phone? Ask them to clip out coupons from ads anyway. They may even spot a deal you missed.