How to help senior citizens

What can you do to help out senior citizens? Here are a few things you can do to improve the quality of life of a senior.

3 min read

If you have a special senior, either a parent, grandparent, or a community member, providing support and assistance can greatly enhance their quality of life. In return, seniors have so much to offer to society, so it’s a win-win. If you’re looking for ways to help your favorite senior, there are several things you can do.  

Start by polishing those social skills! Emotional connection, regular chats, and encouraging seniors to socialize all counter the feelings of isolation and depression that aging brings. You could even start a senior social group! Fitness is also important at their age, and it helps reduce joint pain and slow memory loss. Help your seniors find a gentle exercise they enjoy and encourage them along the way.

5 Ways to help senior citizens

The Power of Emotional Connection

Love doesn’t cure everything- but it sure makes things better. One of the most valuable forms of help you can offer to seniors is your emotional support. Aging comes with feelings of loneliness, isolation, and even depression. Seniors can feel lost without the family and work life they were used to. Plus, they are faced with a slowly shrinking social circle, especially as deaths among their age group eat away at their peers. 

Simply spending time with seniors will brighten their day and lift their spirits. It also helps to prevent those feelings of loss and isolation that can affect their mental health. Make an effort to check in on them regularly, whether in person, over the phone, or via video calls. Listen to their stories, and talk to them meaningfully.

You can also go the extra mile and host a senior social group yourself. Remember, strong social bonds are vital for seniors' mental and emotional well-being. Encourage them to try social activities, clubs, or volunteer opportunities. Additionally, consider (gently, and with patience) introducing them to technology platforms that allow for virtual socialization, allowing them to stay connected with friends and family members in a ‘modern’ way.

Offering Tangible Assistance

Everyone needs help, especially as they age! However, many younger folks don’t know where to start. Here’s some great ideas:

Think about your regular day and what you do- cooking, cleaning, yard work. As people age, these daily tasks become challenging. So you can offer help with things like grocery shopping, meal preparation, household chores, and transportation. This greatly reduces the stress on seniors. It also lets you ensure they are living in happy, healthy circumstances and taking care of themselves. Consider making a regular schedule to help your special senior with their tasks each week. You could also check in on their home repair and maintenance needs a few times a year.

Think beyond day-to-day concerns, too. Maybe you can offer practical assistance through your unique skills, such as helping seniors manage their finances, organize paperwork, or navigate technology. It may seem small, but can significantly reduce stress and anxiety for older people. Offer to accompany them to their appointments, assist with filling out forms, or teach them how to use tech gadgets to stay connected with their loved ones. You don’t have to be a full-time carer or a nurse to make a difference!

Encourage seniors to stay active

Encouraging seniors to stay active is essential to maintaining their physical health and mobility. Gentle exercise helps with joint pain, mobility issues, and general health. It is also linked to better cognitive function, warding off dementia, and boosting memory. Many seniors feel ‘washed up’ and ‘past it’, however, especially if they hurt when they move. Luckily, they have you to help!

You could offer to take walks together, help them join a senior-friendly exercise class, or engage in gentle activities with them such as yoga or tai chi. It will be good for you too. If you have fitness skills and certifications, you could even teach a senior-focused class and offer your local seniors your skills!

Create a safe and senior-friendly home

Often, when seniors start slipping on routine tasks, their homes become unsafe because of it. Small DIY issues become massive problems. Structural issues don’t get fixed, and yards become overgrown. Plus, the lovely home that once housed their full family may be too big for them alone. Seniors often need modifications to make their homes more comfortable and safe for them, too.

You can offer to help ‘makeover’ your special senior’s home. Think of things like installing grab bars in bathrooms, improving lighting, and removing tripping hazards. As medical costs can be steep as we age, you could also offer to purchase needed mobility aids such as walkers or wheelchairs. 

Take the time to educate yourself about issues related to aging, including common health conditions, legal issues, and financial matters. Look into available support services in your area, too. Then share your knowledge with others in your community to raise awareness and promote empathy and understanding of seniors' needs. If you are in a position to do so, offering donations to local retirement centers will always be appreciated, too.

Promote independence in the elderly

While it's important to offer seniors assistance and support, it's equally essential to respect their independence and autonomy. Aging doesn’t mean they’re dumb or incapable! Even in cases where there is some cognitive decline, they still have a lot to offer. Make sure you are truly helping, not simply bossing them around.

If you have a beloved senior in your life, allow them to make their own decisions about their care and lifestyle whenever possible. Offer them guidance and assistance as needed, but don’t be overly intrusive or controlling. And even if you have a soft spot for seniors, don’t let your attitude become patronizing! Remember, they are older. That doesn’t mean incapable.

Finally, it is always nice to express gratitude and appreciation for the wisdom, guidance, and contributions that seniors bring to our lives. Let them know how much they are valued and cherished, and celebrate their achievements and milestones. A simple gesture of gratitude can go a long way in brightening their day and reinforcing their sense of worth.