Most of the time, we rush through each day to finish all the work and errands we have to do. We go home, have dinner, and sleep. It’s a constant race against time and the many things we have to do and face every day. We forget about the parents who can no longer keep up with the pace we live our lives. It is no surprise that many of our elderly feel useless and unneeded. These feelings will only intensify as we immerse ourselves into our busy lives and have families of our own.
But remember how your parents soothe your fears and worries away when you were a teen? Do you remember the way they hugged you when you first got your heart broken? You are in the same position. You have to bail them out from these feelings of loneliness and uselessness. They are not useless, though they sometimes feel that they are. But the task of making them feel that they are still valued in the family will fall on the young ones’ able shoulders. Now is the time to give back.
Why Feeling Needed Is Good for Their Mental Health
The elderly and seniors face a lot of physical, mental, and emotional challenges. For one, they aren’t as strong and able as they used to be. When you ignore their emotional needs, that affects their mental health and how they see themselves. They suffer from anxiety and depression. They will have a heightened sense of their own mortality. Who wants to be reminded of the bygone years when you are in your senior years? Making them feel useful, needed, and valued will have a positive impact on their lives.
Find Meaning in Their Medical Condition
Surely, the elderly in your family is already facing a lot of health problems. Instead of running away from their health conditions, why don’t you encourage them to join groups that share their experiences about their conditions? They can even join fundraising events organized for patient advocacy groups to meet and help people who are going through the same conditions as them. They will find purpose by being among people who have similar experiences and struggles.
Let Them Work If They Want To
Even after the formal retirement, some elderly people still want to work to be productive. Let them be. As long as the work will not be bad for their health, let them contribute to society the way they feel they can. They will have a renewed source of purpose by earning. What are the kinds of jobs that they can do? They can do consultative work. They can also run an online business, so they don’t have to run a physical store.
Ask Them for Advice
Mid-career people tend to decide on their own without consulting their parents anymore. What’s so wrong with talking with your parents about career, personal, and money decisions? They love to share their experiences and the lessons they learned along the way. This is one way of letting them know that their advice still matters.
At the same time, don’t make the mistake of never asking for their opinions about decisions that affect their health. For example, you are going to switch to a new health care provider. Make sure that they know why you are doing that and if it’s in their best interest. Even if you and your siblings are the ones shouldering the cost of your parents’ medical expenses, make sure that you ask for their opinion before changing anything.
Show Genuine Interest
When they talk about their interests—gardening, yoga, ballroom dancing, and many more—listen to what they’re actually saying. Don’t voice your opinions about it unless they ask. They are simply sharing their newly discovered hobbies. Call them and ask how their day went. They love to talk about what’s keeping them busy lately. Don’t let them hold back their emotions and feelings because that will blow up when you least expect it.
Spend Time with Them
If you are not spending time with the elderly in the family, chances are they are feeling a bit neglected. Yes, you are busy, but that doesn’t mean you should not make time for them. Spend a couple of hours each weekend playing board games with them or driving them to their doctor’s appointment. If they want to go to the mall, accompany them there, too.
This is the best time to give back to the senior members of the family. They need you now more than ever, so don’t turn your backs on them. If anything, this is your chance to finally make up for all the sleepless nights they spent worrying about you when you were younger.