Make a Difference-Involving the Elderly in Social Service
The relationship between the elderly and the caregiver is a unique one. All the decisions made, revolve around the senior citizen and his needs or it is something that is worked out together to solve his problems. The world of the elderly is centered on their own physical and emotional needs.
Centering all the focus on themselves can make the senior citizen overwhelmed by compulsive habits and they begin to think that everything must begin and end with themselves. They are then not interested in being with other people and seldom go beyond thinking about themselves. This is a very unhealthy trend and can be detrimental to the mental health of the elderly.
One way of taking care of this issue is to suggest that the elder join with you to go out and do something that may be of value to others. By providing the elderly in your care an opportunity to be effective on someone, you are encouraging them to regain their self-esteem. Going out of the confines of the house into the fresh air can be a good break from their self-centered existence.
There will be much resistance to this idea of service to others by the elders initially because they will not see any gain in it for themselves. However, you need to be very insistent and explain to them that there is life beyond themselves and the service to others will do them good, eventually.
As a caregiver, you must plan for something simple to do, keeping in mind the physical condition of the elderly. If your mom or dad is disabled, there may be some simpler things for them to do too. Some of these are listed below:
- Take your elderly parent for a walk in the park and pick up the trash on a slow walk. This is a cleanliness drive meant to serve the society in general.
- You could take your parent to the nearby retirement home to meet someone there who would enjoy some visitors.
- Help to stuff envelopes or make telephone calls for the church or some charitable institute. This is ideal for the elderly who are confined to a wheelchair.
- You can read to the disadvantaged kids at your local library. This is again ideal for wheelchair bound elderly persons.
- You can even take a young child to the zoo or to watch the ball game, occasionally.
There are volunteer coordination agencies in most of the cities. These provide volunteering opportunities suited to the capabilities of the senior citizen. You can make use of these agencies to work out something for your elderly parent. Once the elders are out, you may be surprised at their enthusiasm for such volunteer activities.
Making a difference to others gives a great feeling of satisfaction and contentment to everyone, and more so to the elderly, because you are doing things together.
This may be helpful in regaining their lost self-esteem and alleviate feelings of depression or boredom. It is a good therapy for the elderly and may help to turn around their life and induce them to take a positive approach towards life.
Best Wishes, Coyalita
Behavioral Health Rehabilitative Specialist
See Tomorrow: “Respecting the Rights of Senior Citizens”
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