Small Victories of Feeling Useful

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Why do seniors at some point seem to just give up on life? I’m not sure about all the reasons but for my daddy, it’s when he feels incapable of doing something with purpose.

Where the mind goes, the body follows.

Let’s face it. Our physical ailments get much worse when we are feeling down-in-the-dumps. Perhaps more than any other demographic, our seniors live to be helpful, to be active, to do something that makes a difference. When their ability to do even little things becomes hard, they don’t really see a reason to keep living. I know it’s true of my daddy. He’s been battling a lengthy illness and it wears his good attitude down to the quick.

Why Seniors Give Up

Losing independence is a big factor in seniors giving up. These are just some of the reasons seniors take a nose dive into depression and then their physical health also suffers.

  1. Isolation – for any reason
  2. The loss of a spouse
  3. The loss of mobility
  4. The loss of a driver’s license
  5. Hearing loss
  6. Vision problems
  7. A chronic illness
  8. A move from their long-time residence
  9. The loss of a pet
  10. The loss of a neighbor, close friend or family member

If you know a senior who is having any of these issues, please keep a good eye on them. Do what you can to keep them doing — anything! Even small outings and small tasks that they can manage will make a difference. Most seniors don’t want to be waited on as much as they need to feel useful. That’s why it’s important for you not to discourage them from helping out when they can and doing for themselves.

My daddy’s problem lately was trying to recover from a urinary tract infection (UTI). These can be horrible on older people. At some points during his illness, he didn’t think he had long to live. I had to stay positive and keep my mother from going to the dark side. I talked and talked about how getting over the UTI would make daddy feel so much better. It took months but now daddy has good days when he can get out on the riding mower. It changes his whole perspective on life.

Yesterday he actually went to my granddaughter’s volleyball game. Yes, he kind of paid for it. It was more than he was used to, but he was thrilled to be able to see her last game of the year.

With daddy, a good day is often followed by a few down days. But at least now he does believe there will be good days coming. Next week, my cousin, his nephew is flying out from Oklahoma for a visit. That will be really good medicine for daddy and mama too.

Change Is Good Medicine

Grief can take a senior down very quickly. Be aware and keep in close contact with them. Sometimes a change can be good medicine. Get them out of the house even if it’s for a short ride or a meal. Let them talk about how they feel. They will need to get it out. Just try to break up the grieving conversations with something positive — good news about a family member or a cherished memory of them when they were much younger.

Being a caregiver is a tough job. Try to keep the best attitude you can and keep those loving eyes on your sweet elders. And don’t forget to celebrate their small victories and praise them for their efforts.

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