Taking Care of Your Loved One’s Emotional Health
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, in pain; but, often overlooked or forgotten is their emotional health. Each of us needs a balance between body and mind for our overall wellbeing.
Dealing with our loved one’s emotional health could at times turn complicated, depending on their personality and other factors such as drastic changes in their lifestyle. Some seniors would tend to become passive to avoid being a bother in your life. And others tend to become more demanding and emotionally needy. The gravity of each situation varies, but if you feel that your case is overwhelming and see no exit, we encourage you to visit a professional.
Why is Emotional Health Important?
As mentioned before, body and mind are one; underestimating the significance of one could likely have serious repercussions on the other. The feeling of loneliness, boredom, sadness, and isolation would likely drive your loved one to depression, difficulty in sleeping, concentration problems, lack of appetite, among many others issues.
The scientific article on psychological wellbeing, health and aging confirms, “the notion that impaired psychological wellbeing is associated with increased risk of physical illness is not new, since there is an established research literature linking depression and life stress with premature mortality, coronary heart disease (CHD), diabetes, disability and other chronic conditions.”
Friends and Hobbies
Once your loved one's health decays, their lifestyle starts to change. They can't keep doing what they used to do, and the sadness begins to take over.
You can try to reduce this sadness by helping your loved one remain in contact with their closest friends and family members. Also, if their health condition allows, encourage and support them to continue practicing their favourite hobbies. If they are no longer able to practice their usual hobbies, introduce them to new hobbies. You could encourage them to read books, do crossword puzzles, and to learn how to surf the internet. Pets can also be good company for your loved one. AgingCare.com shares, “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.”
Engaging with the Community
Getting involved in local communities can be very beneficial for seniors. These communities can provide an opportunity for your loved one to experience a variety of fun activities, find new purposes in life and make new friends. Heather Norris, LCSW, Outpatient Clinician at Maine Behavioral Healthcare said, "the value of peer support or socializing with others who are the same age and have shared experiences cannot be understated."
Security and Empowerment
When physical and mental skills start to worsen, seniors may begin to feel more vulnerable. The latter may create feelings of insecurity and anxiety. If your loved
one is living alone, make sure to put security gadgets in place to reassure them and have more control over their safety. If they have recently moved, ensure that they are able to operate all the house appliances, otherwise teach them. Empowering your loved one to do tasks on their own will allow them to become more independent, which is good for both of you.
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