Heart2Heart tips for elderly

Heart2Heart tips for elderly


DO you live or take care of your elderly parent? Are their emotional needs being taken care of? You may want to attend the Heart2Heart workshop organised by Aged Care Group (ACG).

If your elderly parent is moody, demotivated, has a poor appetite, is anti-social or exhibiting unusual behaviour, you may need to focus on their emotional needs.

“The emotional wellbeing is often omitted, especially for the elderly. This may due to the bias that the elderly are old enough to manage or handle their emotions. This is not true,” says Lim Suat Ping, health psychologist at ACG.

According to her, no matter what your age is, you would tend to become insecure or vulnerable when things are out of control, especially when the physical and cognitive functioning/capability is declining day by day.

“At the older stage of life, people are looking forward to a fulfilling life. Poor emotional wellbeing stops them from achieving fulfilment, which ultimately may lead to poor quality of life,” she adds.

Here are some common reasons for the elderly to be moody and depressed:

  • The decline of bodily or cognitive functioning might cause fear and anxiety to the elderly.
  • Given that the elderly person is retired and spending most of their time at home, they are likely to feel a loss of self-worth and that they are not contributing to society. Recognition and reassurance is needed to motivate them.
  • Loneliness.
  • Living without dignity, especially if they need to be taken care of, or are dependent on a caregiver.
  • Reflecting on life might incur guilt about the past and/or dissatisfaction with life and regrets.

If their emotional needs are not taken care of, there is a risk of their health deteriorating because of a poor quality of life.

According to Lim, this will lead to negative outcomes such as physical illness, poor social relationship and mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, insecurity and low self-esteem.

“In a worse case scenario, it could lead to suicide. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has found higher-than-average suicide rates among the elderly in Asian countries. The elderly choose to end their life when they lose the motivation to live and devalue their self-worth,” explains Lim.

While talking with the elderly helps to make them feel like they are not alone and that you care, it is insufficient if not followed up by action.

Lim recommends spending quality time with the elderly parent and grandparent, rather than focusing on the quantity.

“Seeing each other too often may sometimes cause more conflicts, so the best is to make good use of the limited time and make the session meaningful.

“Do something fun together! Apart from intimate conversation, participating in activities is beneficial in enhancing the family relationship. The activities can be as simple as cooking or baking at home, completing a painting or puzzle, or attending fitness classes together. Activities with a common goal are always good for family bonding.

“Having at least one family meal together during the week is ideal for catching up, if the adult children are busy with work during weekdays. However, it’s recommended to stay in touch with the elders through phone/chat/social media throughout the week.

“You don’t have to physically be there all the time. Sometimes an impromptu call during the day or before bed can make their day. You will be surprised how happy your parents or grandparents will be to get a call from you. Of course, not having the time should not be the regular excuse for not visiting parents and grandparents.

“The main challenge here is that the family often doesn’t have the luxury of time to be with the elderly all the time. Outsourcing to the community or the maid could be an alternative. However, you should bear in mind that we shouldn’t be too dependent on the community or helper and neither should we unload all filial responsibilities to them. After all, family is irreplaceable,” says Lim.

She will be talking about Creative Ways to Care for Elder’s Emotional Needs and Tips to Enhance Family Bonding at the Heart2Heart workshop organised by ACG.

The workshop, to be held on Saturday, Feb 7, 2015, from 10am-1pm at the Sungai Long Medical Centre (SLMC) will also feature tips to prevent fall risk, enhance stability and physical assistance techniques by Lian Yun-Perng of Synapse Physiotherapy.

The workshop, targeted at the elderly and family members taking care of them, is free and open to members of the public. Participants will receive a goodie bag, and light refreshments will be served.

Participants can expect an interactive workshop with hands-on learning.

To register, call (010) 213-5023 or send the following SMS to the same number:

<H2H>SPACE<NAME>SPACE<CONTACT NUMBER>

For general enquiries, call (03) 9010-3788 ext 216.

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