by Joy Loverde
Everybody ages differently. Take a look around and see for yourself. You may have read about (or even know personally) older adults who run marathons, and at the same time have witnessed people who are the same age who have no motivation to do much of anything. It’s true that genetic makeup plays an important role in the aging process; but in addition to what we inherit from our parents, how we age also is determined by an accumulation of our life experiences and belief systems.
No two older adults are alike. Some elderly people welcome new challenges and are open to the possibility of learning new things and others shy away from trying anything “different.” Some are social, outgoing, and eager to reach out to others or help those in need, and others isolate themselves and resist making contact with the rest of the world.
Those of us who are in daily contact with aging parents and elderly people hear it all the time. “I never thought I’d still be around at my age!” Many of my elders tell me all the time that one of their biggest fears is living too long with no place or purpose on this earth.
It’s especially difficult when the person who is lost and unengaged in life is one of our aging parents. I’ve got a few ideas on how to help aging parents feel good about themselves and help them to create meaning and purpose in their lives.
Our aging parents’ choice of involvement and activities will vary based on interests, mobility and physical limitations. And overcoming barriers (such as finding alternative transportation for someone who no longer drives) can help broaden the possibilities. Be creative! In my book, The Complete Eldercare Planner, I talk about a wealth of ideas that assist aging parents with the process of staying in touch with the things they love to do, and even create new ones.
The process of getting aging parents energized is to start a conversation that involves asking engaging questions. Here are a few to get you started:
- What is important for you to do right now?
- Is there anything new that you would like to learn?
- Do you have a skill that you can teach to others?
- Have you considered volunteering for a cause that is important to you?
- Have you investigated local community classes or senior center activities?
- Would you like to pursue any unfulfilled dreams?
- Who is alone and lonely that you can visit or call?
- Have you contacted everyone in your life that you want to see or talk with?
The good news is sometimes all our aging parents need is a little encouragement from us to get back in the game of life.
Be sure to sign up for our email notification or bookmark our RSS Feed in your reader.