Caring for our elders
If you are already taking good care of your elders at home then this day could be an occasion to reaffirm your pledge to continue to do your best, or pause and evaluate if you can do more. Outside home too, we encounter elders - in the queue at the supermarket or at the bank, waiting to cross the road, or walking past us on the road carrying a heavy bag. World Elders Day is a day for us to reflect on the state of elders and .how we can help improve the quality of their life.
• It is said that elders are like children -- they may have mood swings or get upset easily. We may not be able to understand why. But with a little effort and time, we can learn to listen and respond!
• Elders too need attention, just like all of us. Mental agitation, restlessness, falling sick often, and even suicide attempts could be reactions to neglect by the family. We must ensure that they are not taken for granted.
• It is essential that elders engage in mentally stimulating activities to keep the brain active and their faculties sharp.
Simple ways to make elders feel important
• Ask them what they want to eat. Don't just serve whatever Is convenient.
• Ask them how they feel. Listen to them, especially their aches and pains. Let them complain ... you don't always need to find a cure. Often, you just need to listen.
• Spend time with them and take them on trips and outings. Help them with their errands - the bank, doctors' visits, visits to friends & relatives, plays, or movies.
• Read to them, if they have vision problems. Play games with them - caroms, cards, ludo, snakes and ladders, chess...
• Give them their own space as far as possible - a room with a TV, music player, phone connection, etc. If that is not possible, ensure they have a cozy corner, with a chair and table, fresh air and sunlight, space for their medicines, and reading material.
• Ask them for their advice, involve them In household activities and decisions! They like knowing that you care about their opinion. Listen to what they say! Elders are usually right!
• Find forums for elders to engage in group activities - a seniors club or an informal group meeting in a park every evening. Groups of elders can engage with small children in their locality, read to them, or play with them. This is therapeutic for both elders and children.
• The elderly are especially vulnerable to fractures due to falls. Ensure that elders are taking adequate calcium. Install hand railings and put anti-skid mats In bathrooms to minimize these risks.
• Ensure that elders have adequate physical exercise, depending upon their health condition. Yoga walks or simple stretches will keep them healthy and active.
Teach children to respect & value their elders.
Rember, one day we will be elders too!