When a loved one becomes ill, we tend to only ask them questions about how they are doing physically. We ask them if they feel weak, tired, or in pain, but we often overlook or forget about their emotional health. Each of us needs to achieve a balance between body and mind for the sake of our overall well-being.
Taking care of our loved one’s emotional health can at times turn complicated, depending on factors like their personality and the changes being made to their lifestyle. Some seniors tend to become passive to avoid being a bother in your life, while others tend to become more demanding and emotionally needy. The gravity of each situation varies, but if you feel overwhelmed by your case and see no exit, we encourage you to visit a professional.
Physical health and emotional health are not always separate issues. When it comes to wellness, the body and mind are one, and neglecting one could have serious repercussions for the other. Feelings like loneliness, boredom, sadness, and isolation could cause your loved one to have difficulty sleeping, problems concentrating, decreased appetite, and to develop mental health issues like depression.
The idea that emotional and physical health impact each other is not new. This article on psychological well-being, health, and aging confirms that “there is an established research literature linking depression and life stress with premature mortality, coronary heart disease (CHD), diabetes, disability and other chronic conditions.” Here are some ways you can care for your loved one’s emotional health to promote their overall wellbeing.
When your loved one's health declines, their lifestyle starts to change. They can't keep doing what they used to do and the sadness begins to take over.
You can reduce this sadness for your loved one by helping them stay in contact with their friends and family members. If their health condition allows, you can support and encourage them to continue practicing their favourite hobbies. If they are no longer able to practice their usual hobbies, introduce them to new ones. You can encourage them to read books, do crossword puzzles, and learn how to surf the internet. Pets can also be good company for your loved one and can even provide some health benefits. In this article on the healing power of pets, AgingCare.com shares that “for elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity and help them learn.”
Community engagement can be very beneficial to seniors. By helping your loved one get involved in their community, you can provide them with an opportunity to enjoy fun activities, make new friends, and find new purpose in life.
Your loved one can also benefit from finding community among other seniors who share their experiences. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has found that receiving peer support from those who share similar experiences can lead to feelings of empowerment and greater self-belief. Having a community to support them can help your loved one feel confident in themselves and improve their overall well-being.
When seniors experience a decline in their physical and mental skills, they may begin to feel more vulnerable, which can in turn lead to feelings of insecurity and anxiety.
If your loved one is living alone, you can put security gadgets in their home to reassure them and give them more control over their safety. If they have recently moved, ensure they know how to operate all the home appliances. Empowering your loved one to do tasks on their own will allow them to become more independent, which is good for both of you. Your loved one can feel confident in their abilities, and you can have one less thing on your plate.
We hope these tips help you if you are feeling overwhelmed by the task of caring for your loved one’s well-being. The importance of emotional health cannot be understated. That’s why, when caring for others, it’s important to take care of your own needs too. To learn more about emotional wellness, make sure to visit our blog, or sign up for our newsletter to get tips on how older adults can stay healthy and happy delivered right to your inbox.
Wendy studies English Language and Literature at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.
Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.
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