As we age, the negative stereotypes surrounding getting older start to really close in on us. You have bad joints, can’t get around as easily as you could before, starting to forget things easier…and with that, start to lose confidence in yourself and your abilities. Typically, studies have shown that self-esteem declines rapidly after the age of 65, so it is seniors that struggle the most with their confidence and need that pick-me-up the most.
There is a connection between one’s self-esteem and their overall health at really any age. However, research shows that that a series of losses (a death of a spouse or friend, retirement from work they loved, illness, frailty that challenges mobility, living on a fixed income) can really shake the golden years for our seniors. Low self-esteem can also cause senior’s bodies to take huge hits physically, and ultimately increase their stress levels which can be deadly.
When you combine low self-esteem with age-related suppression, seniors can have difficulty fighting off diseases and illnesses and take much longer to recover.
Here are some easy ways to boost the self-esteem of your elderly loved one:
1. Make them feel appreciated and valued. Your loved one has been on this earth for 60+ years and is basically a library of information. This is a generation that grew up on “do it yourself” because they didn’t have Google to tell them what to do. Seriously, I could tell my grandpa over the phone what noise my car is making and he could tell me exactly what is wrong with it. Ask them for advice and their opinion! Whether it be a serious conversation about a relationship or how to cook the perfect banana bread, being helpful and having a sense of purpose can really boost their confidence.
2. Get rid of those negative stereotypes. Let’s be real, when we talk about aging, is there anything positive about it? Keep those conversations away from them. Stay positive when you are around your loved one. Remind them that they are valued for what they can do and that there is no shame in their hearing loss, lack of stamina or memory complications. We all have limitations.
3. Encourage strength and balance. The easier it is for your loved one to get around, the less likely they will fear hurting themselves and not wanting to walk at all. Encourage independence and offer to do activities with them that they would enjoy (going to the pool for water aerobics, taking a walk through the park, going shopping) all of these are super great ways to increase strength and have fun doing it! Plus, you get to spend some extra time with your loved one, and they’ll appreciate that.
4. Get them involved. No matter what age we are, we thrive off of friendships, relationships and love. Encouraging your loved one to be active in social groups is a great way to continue those connections. Scrapbook club, book club, coffee dates, or anything that your loved one would find interest in and create those connections through mutual hobbies. Keeping those social connections strong is vital to their happiness.
5. Show some compassion. A senior’s limitations can be interpreted as stubbornness, laziness, or being difficult, but really know that they probably want to do as well as you can, but struggle. Showing patience, empathy and compassion can go a really long way with elderly. This kind of attitude can turn “Well, I just don’t want to do this.” to “It’ll take time, but I’ll get there.” and that can mean the world to seniors. Show you care and you understand and you’re here for them. Your outcome will be much better and overall make your loved one much happier and confident.
You can’t stop yourself from aging, it is just a part of life. And even though you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s right now, you still should treat your elderly loved ones the same way you would want to be treated. Also, give hugs like they’re going out of style. Hugs that are 7 seconds long are proven to increase your mood, and could be the first hug your senior has had in a long time.
Make someone feel good today.
Sources: www.aegisliving.com, www.assistinghands.com, www.cityofvancouver.us