Helping Older Loved Ones to Enjoy a Good Quality of Life

Quality of life is crucial to enjoying our senior years. Older people don’t just want to be alive and live to an old age; they also want to be able to enjoy their remaining years, to have new experiences, make new friends, and really make the most of their time — perhaps more so than at any other age. But it’s not always easy. Growing health issues, needs and limitations can make enjoying a good quality of life difficult. If you are worried that your older loved ones are living, but not really enjoying life, here are some things that you can do to help them.

Care for Their Physical Needs

As our loved ones get older, their physical needs might grow. It’s normal for health to decline, or for good health to take a little more work as we get older.

Look Out for Warning Signs

Older people don’t always spot the signs of a health problem, and even if they do, they are often keen to ignore it, hoping it will go away. This can mean that you need to keep an eye out for changes to habits and mobility, as well as mood and appetite, so that you can encourage them to seek help or get advice on what you can do to make their life easier.

Encourage Regular Check-Ups

Even if your loved one seems fine, encourage them to get check-ups and attend routine screenings. They might be worried about asking for help, so make sure you can help with booking and attending appointments if needed.

Look for Signs of Cognitive Decline

Helping Older Loved Ones to Enjoy a Good Quality of Life

Physical health concerns aren’t the only things that creep up on us as we age. Cognitive decline can also be a barrier to a good quality of life. Some of the warning signs that you should look out for include:

  • Confusion around money or missed payments.
  • Poor hygiene or cleanliness at home.
  • Missing appointments or plans.
  • Increased isolation and forgetfulness.

If you are worried that your loved one is showing signs of dementia, then this test can help you to understand whether they are. But it’s also important to check in with a doctor and consider specialized housing, which could help them to maintain a good quality of life, even if dementia is something they are suffering from.

Find Ways to Keep Their Mind Alert

Whether your loved one is struggling with memory problems or not, keeping their mind alert can improve their cognition and quality of life. Things like reading, spending time with friends, enjoying puzzles and games, learning new skills, and practicing old ones can help. Talk to your loved one about things that they enjoy or would like to try, and make sure they’ve got everything that they need to get started.

Promote Self-Care

Looking after yourself isn’t always easy, and many of us are guilty of always putting others first. Encourage your loved one to do things that they enjoy, and to set a little time aside every day, to do something for themselves, instead of for everyone else.

Encourage Exercise

Exercise is a great way to promote good physical and mental health and maintain mobility, which can boost the quality of life and make it easier to enjoy fun activities. Encourage exercise but remember your older loved one might not be able to do things that you can, or that they used to be able to. Consider things like gardening, walks with friends, swimming, or even exercise classes or seniors.

Don’t Neglect Their Social Life

As family members, we’re often guilty of focusing on physical and mental health when it comes to caring for our loved ones. But when it comes to enjoying a good quality of life, friendships are just as important. If your loved one has become isolated, encourage them to get out and meet people in their community, or to reach out to old friends. Joining groups and having regular plans can be a big help.

Support Don’t Patronize

Helping Older Loved Ones to Enjoy a Good Quality of Life

The last thing that you should do is take over. Your loved one might need more support, as well as some guidance and encouragement. But they don’t need you to tell them what to do, treat them like children, or patronize them. Have open conversations, and help as much as possible, while respecting their independence and preferences. Never make a decision for them.

One of the best things that you can do to improve your loved one’s quality of life is to talk to them about it. Ask what they are struggling with, what elements of life they find difficult or don’t enjoy, what they miss, or what they feel is missing from their life, and start to make a plan with them, on ways to make life easier. Or new things to try to help them rediscover or find new passions. Just remember that ageing isn’t a straight line and that you may need to have these conversations and make more changes in the future.