It often seems like in our society we have forgotten about a very important population, our elderly and geriatric folks. Now that the holidays are over with and winter is finally here, many people retreat back into their homes and get back to business as usual. But what happens when we have an elderly neighbor who doesn’t have family members around or someone in a nursing home, who would do anything to have a visitor or someone to talk too? What are somethings that we should know about or be aware of when it comes to our elderly or geriatric population?
DO NOT TREAT AN ELDERLY OR GERIATRIC PERSON LIKE THEY ARE CHILDREN.
Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in thinking that because this population may need a little bit more help in certain areas that it is essentially like taking care of a child, wrong answer. This is probably one of the worst things that we can do. The elderly should be treated with respect and their values should always be at the forefront. We should take the time to listen to what their personal needs are and go from there.
RESPECT AN ELDERLY OR GERIATRIC PERSON’S WISDOM.
We have to remember that our geriatric and elderly population has so much to offer others. I don’t know about you, but anyone who has ever sat down with an elderly relative is bound to hear an awesome story from them or something interesting about their childhood and how things are completely different nowadays. Always respect what they can bring to the table that is one of the benefits of getting older, they have experienced so many things and most love to share it. Also, do not underestimate what you can learn from an elderly person. When you are willing to genuinely take the time to empathetically listen to what they have to say, they have the potential to give insight on things that you may have never thought of before; that type of wisdom can only come from age, and that alone is invaluable.
LOOK OUT FOR POSSIBLE SIGNS OF DEPRESSION.
Depression can be a big issue with our geriatric and elderly population. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes for a moment. Many elderly folks have so many people around them who are passing away daily (and they are grieving), they may have multiple health conditions that may stop them from being as independent as they would like to be, and can at times be lonely with no one to turn too. That alone could make any of us depressed. Look out for signs of them losing interest in things they would normally be interested in doing. Also, look out for increased fatigue, isolation, sadness, and even them talking more about death. These things could possibly be red flags. Do not be afraid to simply ask them if they are feeling depressed and what you could do to help or be ready to provide them with the proper resources so that they can get the help that they need and deserve.
VOLUNTEER WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
Most of us lead very busy lives and often feel like we “don’t have time to volunteer”. But it goes back to that old saying, “people make time for who they want to make time for”. We could all probably think of at least one of our neighbors who we sometimes see and know that they are living by themselves or are even lonely; and could benefit from a little help. By helping them out, this could equate to doing small things like maybe picking up an extra can of soup for them when you go to the store. Or maybe even when cooking a meal for your family, you could maybe think about bringing them a plate of food. There are also so many nursing homes and places that would love for people to volunteer their time. To give you an example, there are many nursing homes that look for people to simply be a friendly visitor, or to help with games and activities around the center. You never know how much a small kind gesture, could mean for someone else. Do not underestimate how you can positively impact someone else’s life. The best thing about volunteering is that sometimes we go into it thinking that we are going to help someone else out, and actually come out of it having learned something about ourselves. It can be powerful; our geriatric and elderly friends need us.