We talked recently about the types of challenges that elderly face worldwide. We also talked about how important it is to help them keep their freedom of expression. Let’s look at some specific things you can do to make that happen:
- Get involved in community organizations. Often, community and government organizations make decisions that impact elderly people. If there is no one speaking up for the elderly, then their ideas, values or needs may not be addressed when those decisions are made or actions taken. In Anchorage, there are 3 organizations that you can watch and get involved in that will help you keep track of what is happening regarding our seniors: The Anchorage Assembly, Commonwealth North and the Mabel T. Caverly Senior Center. Of course, these are just a few places to get started!
- Exercise together! What’s that you say? How does that relate to freedom of expression? Well, we all know that when people are more active, they have a healthier state of mind—which means often that they can have a greater sense of confidence. Confidence translates to speaking up. It is likely that an elderly person in your life has had their confidence chipped away at in some way. Helping them to keep a healthy perspective can rebuild that and encourage them to keep talking!
- Celebrate and encourage their sense of community. Isolation is a very real problem that elderly people face. Of course it’s important for you to be a person of trust for your loved ones, but you can’t be everything. So, help them to get involved in activities and groups that they enjoy. Again, this relates to confidence. A healthy social life fosters a good community and the confidence to speak one’s mind and stay involved.
- Find trusted caregivers and support. It’s likely that you can’t provide all that your elderly loved one needs and still maintain a healthy balance in your life. We all have thresholds, it’s important to recognize them. One way to do so is by deciding where you need help and finding the right people or organizations to fill that role. Look for caregivers and support groups that demonstrate appropriate licensure and certifications, but that also go the extra mile and focus their care on the individual.
- Make time to talk regularly about concerns. We mentioned listening in our previous post. It’s really important. It’s also important to remember how quickly things can change and it’s very possible that your elderly loved one is facing big changes on a regular basis. That means if you don’t check in with them, you might find that something has been bothering them for some time and they have not been able to find a way to cope with it. The sooner that changes and concerns are addressed, the better everyone’s quality of life and the easier it is to prevent a loved one from entering into a pattern of behavior/thought that is disempowering—which means that they may be losing their voice regarding decisions that affect them.
If you can focus on these 5 steps, you will likely see a happier elderly loved one who still feels in control of their choices. That’s one of the greatest freedoms of all.