By Michael Edlen
Special to the Palisades News
It is essential for those who prefer to remain in their present home for as long as possible to keep as active, alert and as involved as they are able.
Similarly, for those who have become caregivers, facilitating that active involvement will aid immeasurably in the seniors being able to have a longer and healthier experience.
For many seniors, days seem to pass into months and time just goes by. Their focus often becomes narrowed down to basic activities, and they have very little communication with other people. Lacking in exercise of either mind or body, their energy may continue to lessen and interests diminish steadily. This clearly is not a path which will lead them to remaining healthy in their home environment.
Focusing on what seniors are interested in and keeping them actively engaged in their hobbies can greatly improve their lifestyle quality. If they can be helped to accomplish some goals or realize some wishes they had longed to do, the actual effort and process can improve energy, vitality and enthusiasm, as they then have so much more to live for.
Dramatic improvement can come from even such simple actions as experimenting with different types of foods, attending lectures on topics of interest, or taking up a new hobby.
There is almost an endless variety of activities that might be of interest and possibility. Depending on physical condition and stamina, the activities could include local or longer distance trips, taking lessons in art or crafts, learning new games, joining a gym with senior specialists, taking up some musical or singing activity, becoming a children’s reader at the local library, etc. Being creative in writing a journal or poetry can do wonders for a person’s mental attitude.
Of course, proper nutrition and eating habits are essential to maintenance of lifestyle. Seniors often drift into poor nutrition patterns, especially if they live alone and aren’t mobile. Signing up for Meals On Wheels can at least help assure that balanced meals are available every day. If a caregiver is involved, it can be very helpful to take into consideration any eating difficulties, such as difficulty in chewing, manual dexterity, and loss of appetite. Being sure to drink sufficient water every day is essential to avoid dehydration.
Some physical activity is crucial to maintaining normal body functions, minimizing stress, and enhancing the immune system. Everyone is capable of some activity, even if it is limited to stretching exercises and short walks with a walker, or isometric muscle exercises. Meditation, positive affirmations and visualization techniques are also useful for re-energizing the spirit and extending the time one may enjoy a more robust and energetic lifestyle.
The proper use of all medications is also vital to a longer life in the home. Often a caregiver is involved in assisting in the monitoring and administration of pills, and that person needs to be mindful of the proper dosages and timing and watchful for any signs of problems arising from over-medication. There must be user-friendly medication boxes with clear indications of which pills are to be taken and when.
There are various general ways seniors can get out into the world, or have aspects of the world brought to them, that will help give them more ideas to think and talk about. These could include seeing a movie (in a theater or at home), people-watching at a mall, browsing through books at the library, and going to a local art gallery or science museum.
Visits to or by family and friends can make a world of difference for seniors. Even regular phone conversations can help them feel a part of the family and community. Going to the hairdresser or manicurist, or having the service provided at home if necessary, helps keep one’s feeling of attractive- ness active, as can a light massage.
Michael Edlen is a certified Senior Residential Real Estate Specialist, and has helped counsel many seniors to remain in their homes for years longer. He can be reached at (310) 230-7373 or by email at Michael@ MichaelEdlen.com.