4 Ways To Help Seniors Stay Spiritual And Connected
For most of us, our spirituality, our sense of connection with the Divine, and our understanding of our true purpose and destiny can waver and fluctuate over the course of our lives.
At our best, we may feel perfectly in alignment to our true purpose and lovingly connected to the world around us.
At our worst, we may turn bitter or jaded and feel like isolating ourselves from the world, or even fall into depression.
It’s especially important to encourage older adults in our lives to remain hopeful, happy, and connected to their communities, while also ensuring they get the best medical care and other support they need.
Here are a few of the best ways help seniors stay spiritual and connected.
1) Encourage social activities
Connection is core to our sense of community and bonding, and ensures that we feel needed, wanted, and well-loved.
Older adults that remain active in their communities and engaged with their hobbies – continuing to seek out new experiences, even as they age – report healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives.
Encourage the elders in your life to attend a local Meetup, join a class, or visit a conference or seminar to expand their horizons just a bit more.
They may need help getting around though – since many older adults may not feel strong enough or comfortable enough to drive themselves around due to illness, eyesight issues, or other more complicated health problems.
Be sure to arrange carpool situations, pickup and drop off senior transport, or other options for older adults on a regular basis so they can still get to their dance classes, book groups, and other appointments.
2) Help them stay in their own familiar homes
Seniors tend to thrive when they are allowed to stay in their homes, or other familiar surroundings, as long as possible.
Care homes for the elderly, as great as they may be, can be difficult to adjust to and navigate.
They can also lead to feelings of loneliness and disorientation.
In some cases it is the best option for an older adult, but for many there are other ways to help seniors stay safe and healthy in their own homes – while also making it easier to stay well-connected to their current communities.
In-home care is a blanket term that covers everything from medical procedures performed by registered nurses to help with household chores, meal preparation, and medication reminders.
In-home care providers are also the first line of defense when it comes to ensuring the safety and health of an older adult.
Whether they look for potential hazards in the home or assess routine habits, a senior home care provider can help make recommendations to friends, family, nutritionists, physical therapists, and physicians.
3) Encourage exercise
Studies show that moderate levels of strength training and other low impact activities, like swimming and yoga, can help older adults develop additional muscle mass and counteract the normal muscle loss that occurs as we age.
An article in the International Journal of Yoga concluded that yoga practice especially, for even a few hours a week, can drastically improve both coordination and balance in older adults – benefits that will help them avoid bumps and falls.
Exercise is also known to help promote restful sleep, positively contribute to heart health, and promote positive feelings due to the endorphins that are released.
These are all more than enough reason to encourage the older adults in your life to stay active in various physical activities under the guidance of both their physician and a physical therapist.
4) Let them tell their stories
In our later years, we may also come full circle, understanding that life is as simple as it was when we were children.
For many, our lives may become infused by a new sense of wonder as we try to live, love, and laugh our way through the world.
At the intergenerational preschool and senior living center in Seattle, Washington – The Providence Mount St. Vincent’s Intergenerational Learning Center (ILC ) – the space gives both seniors in their final years, and very young children, the chance to meet, visit and spontaneously interact.
They form friendships and learn from each other.
An informational flyer for the ILC explains that “residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease find it easy to visit with the children because the conversation is light and short. Both generations tend to live ‘in the moment.’ That’s why they enjoy each other so much.”
Swapping stories, sharing memories, and reliving our life experiences (with all their mishaps and adventures) helps us reclaim our narratives, make new meanings, and gain new deeper understandings.
Whenever possible, provide ample opportunities to really listen to the older adults in your life and let them tell their stories.
Help preserve their oral histories and stories for posterity and give them an additional chance to make lasting meanings out of their cup full of life experiences.
Encouraging older adults to explore and make meaning out of their community connections, physical abilities, social habits, and life experiences can help them stay spiritually connected in many ways.
They may finally be able to make peace with past events and find ways to forgive others.
They may also reconnect with their higher self and purpose as they near the end of their lives: one of the most empowering transformations you can gift any soul.
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