How to Foster Meaning and Purpose in the Lives of Older Adults

Maintaining purpose and meaning in life is crucial for older adults.

How many times have we made remarks along the lines of these to older adults, with only the best objectives in mind?

“Wait, let me help you with that!”

“Take it easy and don’t overdo it!”

“You can just sit here and rest; I’ll handle that.”

We want to do everything we can in order to help our senior loved ones, to ensure they are safe and to take care of them in the same way they took care of us when we were younger. Yet, there’s a problem with trying to do too much for older individuals and depriving them of the opportunity to do as much as possible independently – the threat of damaging senior self-esteem and sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Take, for instance, an elderly gentleman who devoted his entire life to taking care of his family, and recently has moved into the early phase of dementia. Considering that he has continuously self-identified as a provider, becoming dependent on someone else to provide for him can be quite challenging and even feel demeaning.

It’s crucial to help him hold onto the sense of being needed by others, and there are various approaches to accomplish just that. Try these recommendations from Stay Home Care to  help your loved ones foster meaning in their lives:

  • Obtain help. Being invited to share insight and wisdom is a great boost to a senior’s self-esteem, and there is certainly a lot we can learn from seniors. Come up with small ways throughout the day to request the older person’s advice on how to make a perfect pot roast, how to stop the draft coming in under the back door, how to comfort a fussy toddler, etc.
  • Seek hands-on help. As in-home caregivers, it is our duty to help older adults with various needs, but we also recognize the value of allowing seniors the opportunity to carry out helpful duties. It doesn’t have to be a monumental task to maintain the sense of being needed. Take note of the senior’s cognitive and physical restrictions, and ask for his/her help appropriately. For example, an individual who is in a wheelchair can sit at the table and assist with meal preparation tasks, polish silverware, or sort various items in a toolbox.
  • Verbally demonstrate your respect. While you may presume the older person understands how you feel, it’s a great feeling to be told how much we mean to someone else. Take time to mention particular ways the older person has assisted you in some manner and how much you appreciate that help, from learning to drive a car, to parenting techniques, to the ability to draw or paint or carve wood. Be honest in your compliments, and say them frequently, from your heart.

A professional in-home caregiver, such as those at Stay Home Care, is adept in maintaining the sensitive balance between supplying care for older adults and enhancing their sense of purpose and meaning.

Contact us at 615-964-7726 to learn more about our in-home care in Nashville, TN and the surrounding areas or to schedule a complimentary in-home evaluation for your senior loved one.