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How to Care for the Emotional Needs of the Elderly

Firstly, mental health issues like depression and anxiety don’t have to be synonymous with old age. A few decades ago, lifespan researchers found that a group, older adults consistently report feeling more positive (happy, content, accomplished) and/or less negative (sad, angry, anxious) in their everyday lives compared with younger adults.
Nevertheless, the elderly have various emotional needs that need to be fulfilled in order for their lives to be meaningful. These include vulnerability, loneliness, boredom and isolation. Meeting these emotional needs can help them avoid depression.

1

Security

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. An emergency panic or call button could reduce her fear of failing to get help should they fall or become unwell.

2

Connection

Being emotionally connected with friends, relatives and caregivers is an important component of emotional wellbeing. Encourage visits from younger family members and use the telephone to maintain regular communication. Photos, books and music are important memorabilia props. Use communication methods that they’re most familiar with – like letter writing.

3

Community

Maintaining links with the community can support an elderly person’s feeling of connection with the world beyond her family. These can include activity and support groups. You may want to facilitate their interaction by arranging transport to local events, religious services or shopping trips. Contact organizations in the area that may be able to offer visits or send newsletters that support their interests.

4

Leisure

Help them 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 their favorite authors. Keep a case of their favourite board games, crosswords, playing cards and other props.

5

Planning

Look ahead to anticipate their future needs. Watch for any deterioration in their mood and be prepared to involve healthcare providers. Set up a “To Do” list. Arrange for periodical check-ups to preempt any medical condition. Facilitate the medication process exactly as prescribed. Sorting their tablets into the correct daily dose can help overcome an elderly person’s fear of making mistakes. You could also help with anxiety by letting them create their will, that will ensure distribution of their assets according to their wishes.

Apart from these, do ensure that they have a sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choices. Involve them in decision making. Respect their privacy — give them opportunities to reflect and consolidate experience. Help them find meaning and purpose and a sense of accomplishment and competence, even if it is with little tasks.

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