The circle of life is a weird thing if you think about it. You come out of this human being as a weak baby. Then you grow up into an adult, and then you grow older till life leaves your vessel. Babies are cared for by their family and loved ones dearly; the world is built based on adults working and elders; they are almost always overlooked.
We look at older people and see them as these frail beings, thinking we don’t have time for them, but they were once babies fresh out of their mother’s wombs and then adults who worked day and night.
The shift from working every day to retiring to chair at home is not an easy one. Due to this, elders often feel ‘useless’ and overlooked because they cannot do what they used to do.
But the truth is that they have already done what they had to do, they have done their hard work, and now it is time for them to enjoy this world.
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However, while they are enjoying this world, we need to do our part in making them feel important. We need to make them feel loved, to make them feel wanted, to make them feel useful above all.
Now comes the question, how do we do that? Especially for someone who is not as strong as they used to be, someone who has health issues, who lost their strength as life went on?
Well, don’t worry, I got you. Today we will go over some of the best tips you can use to make elders feel useful and needed. Without further ado, here we go!
8 Tips for How To Make Elders Feel Useful
1. Ask Them For Advice
There might have been a time where the elder was the one who made all their decisions on their own, and now maybe they Don’t do that anymore, whether it’s because someone else has taken over or perhaps because their condition does not allow them to make these decisions.
It does not matter. The lack of control over the decision-making process might be one of the hardest things for them to get used to. But you can make it better. Ask them for their advice on any matter. Whether it’s related to business, education, or household, it doesn’t matter.
The more you keep them in the loop, the more valuable they will feel. This especially applies to decisions related to them. Any healthcare or any other choices of theirs should be made after consulting with them and let them know once it has been made.
Sometimes you might have to go against their advice in order to choose what’s good for them, but regardless of that, it’s better if they know. Explain to them why you are doing what you are doing and try to make them understand. Some elders might not agree with you or even understand you; in that case, you will have to do what you need to do.
2. Spend Time With Them Doing Their Hobbies
Everyone has hobbies, elder or not. Bonding over one’s hobbies is a great way to spend your time while making them feel needed. It could be cooking, painting, reading, etc., it doesn’t matter.
Anything they like, do it with them. You also don’t have to spend hours doing them, just take some time out of your day to spend with your elders, you can also just do them over the weekends, like maybe a fishing trip if they like it and it is something they can do.
This will also give your elders something to look forward to. They will feel like they are still loved, that someone still wants to spend time with them and cherish them. Spending time with your elders will bring them joy like no other.
3. Bond Over Their Past Profession
Your elder likely had some sort of job that they used to do or something they mastered, bond over that. If it’s something they can still do, without harming their health, like pottery, then maybe you should have them do it.
This could rekindle their passion and have them spend time doing something they really love or enjoy. It will also make them feel like their old self, young and full of energy. Because a trip down the memory lane never hurt anybody.
4. Have Them Help You With Small Chores
Now I don’t mean to whip out a broom and have them clean the entire house; that is going over the board (and is also really cruel). I mean, have them help you very lightly now and then.
Such as having them knit or sew something for you if they can ask them to give you directions for how to cook something or anything they can do without spending a lot of energy or using a lot of strength.
This will make them feel as if they are helping you with stuff instead of just sitting there. It will surely make them a lot more functional. Plus, it’s generally good to keep elders active instead of having them do nothing. It not only weakens their body but their mind as well.
5. Keep In Contact With Them As Much As You Can
6. Ask Questions About Them And Get To Know Them Better
Have you ever tried to sit down with your elders and talk to them about your past? Well, if you haven’t, then you most definitely should. You will be shocked as to how different and exciting their life used to be. Where do they come from, how did their living conditions, what their parents were like, and how life and society were when they were younger?
And do not underestimate them. No matter how mediocre they look or are right now, there is a big chance that their past was filled with twists and secrets even.
7. Always Priorities Them (Or at least Try To)
In this article, I have stressed spending time with them a lot. You can do it anytime you are free, but it’s also important to prioritize them over other things in your life.
Show them they are worth it, that they are not someone you spend time with when you are free, but that you go out of your way to do so. This will surely make every second you spend with them that much more important.
And no, I’m not saying to skip your classes or your workday every day. You have to find the right balance. Some things will be even more important than spending time with the elders, but that’s okay. So long they get their part of love.
8. Be Genuine With Them, Always
Giving the elders all your love and attention will be useless if you don’t show it genuinely. Because no matter how naive you think they are or how susceptible they are, elders always know when someone is genuine or not.
They see right through you when you are having a conversation, and your mind is elsewhere, or when you make an excuse not to spend time with them—giving them fake lobe is worse than not giving them love at all, because it makes them like charity, that you spending time with them is you doing a huge favor. Which it should never be. Do it out of love, or not at all.
So here you go, top tips to make elders feel useful, needed, and loved. Remember, just because they are older than you doesn’t mean that they are not worthy of your time.
There was a time where they were just like you, and one day there will be a time where you will be just like them. So if anything, treat the way you would like to be treated when you are older. Always spread love and kindness, never hate.
Hi, my name is Eddie, I am a professional trainer specializing in the elderly population and I’m also a website designer. I love training in the gym, going to the beach, traveling, and having good food.
I combined my love for sport and website designing to make “DisabilitEase” whose purpose is to help elderly and disabled people live a more full and active life, have more fun, and enjoy their unique journey despite any disability.