Saturday, September 18, 2010

Help Aging Parents: Shorter Days=Depression and Doldrums

Six Suggestions to Help Aging Parents Through the Shorter Days of Autumn and the Short, Dark Days of Winter 
Why?  Just as sunshine usually raises our spirits, the arrival of autumn (on Wednesday) with less sun, cooler weather, falling leaves, and ultimately barren trees and dark days has the opposite effect on many.  To help parents age well with a positive attitude, six suggestions follow.

1.  Structure things so aging parents--especially those who are homebound--have daily connections with family and friends (old friends, new friends, your childhood friends who are still in contact with your parents, clergy).  It can help avoid the doldrums or get them out of a "funk."

2.  Arrange for letters, notes, faxes, e-mails (hard copies can be shared with friends and reread), phone calls, Skype to arrive daily.  Fax and e-mail take little time, require no conversation, yet bring stimulation to aging parents along with the knowledge that someone is thinking about them.  (Great for adult children.)

3.  Remember that "carrots," plans to do something at a future date, give aging parents something to think about and look forward to.

4.  Asking advice in a phone call, e-mail etc. doesn't happen so much any more with older people.  To be asked reinforces self-esteem--feelings of being able to contribute, of being needed.

5.  Sharing appropriate personal thoughts and feelings--with or without asking for input--is flattering (enhances self-esteem) and inclusive.

6.   Discussing news and exchanging ideas is stimulating.  And who doesn't like gossip?

The highly regarded 1987 MacArthur Foundation Study of Aging in America (along with other studies) identifies social connectedness as one of the three most important factors in successful aging.  The more people in an aging person's life, the better.

So for older people--especially if they live in the north--there are dreary months ahead and connections with others become even more important.  They provide stimulation.  They help older people combat feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression.  And that makes our life easier too.  

In addition, an elderly person's feeling that he or she matters--that someone cares--is priceless.  And isn't that a big part of what helping parents age well is all about.
Please visit my .com:

No comments:

Post a Comment