Talking About Purpose and Value with Seniors
Historically, aging citizens have always played important and valuable roles in society, but today it seems things have started to shift. Many seniors struggle to find purpose and value in life in a society that has changed so much during their lifetime. Especially after retirement and starting the age-in-place journey, even the idea of their place within a family or community can be confusing.
At Senior Helpers, we see it as part of our purpose to help your loved ones maintain their sense of purpose and value in their community. Here are a few ways caregivers, family, and friends can be a source of encouragement to seniors seeking purpose and value:
First, it's important to take the time to ask questions and listen carefully. Every stage of life comes with new dreams, goals, hopes, and desires. Unfortunately seniors have been taught to hide those things and focus instead on what they've already accomplished. Senior companionship is done best when the relationship gives a safe space for the senior to explore all the ideas and feelings they still have to give.
How did they fill their time in their youth, why did they choose the career path they chose, what brings them joy? Allow your loved ones to express both the disappointments and successes they've had throughout their lifetime. Additionally, give feedback only to point out what you hear, using phrases like: "It sounds like this was very important for you!" or "It sounds like that was a very painful experience." Avoid trying to give meaning and instead empower them to find their own meaning from their experiences.
While there are many activities that can be easy and fun to do with seniors, it is important to consider engaging them with something they are passionate about. What do your loved ones care about and what skills do they have? While some skills may have faded over time, don't be afraid to work with the passions they already have. If they've been an athlete their entire life, it wouldn't be fair to push them toward something less active just because of their age. Instead, using the passions and skills they already have, look for ways to engage them in the community they were a part of throughout their life.
Once you've identified the crossover between what they love, what skills they have, and which activities are available, it's time to invest in community. There is a kind of healing magic that happens when people come together with a shared interest or purpose. This close kinship instills value and creates bonds that are much deeper than the simple, habitual interactions that come from proximity.
While it's important to create goals and purpose using community, it's vital to balance that with personal introspection. Discussing what you and your loved ones truly hope for is a process of making yourself vulnerable. You may notice that some people (not only seniors!) may choose isolation to avoid being vulnerable around other people. Others may keep themselves busy with people and activities so they don't have any time to be vulnerable with themselves. It's important for seniors to have a balance between alone time and social time. This helps them retain the value of their relationships and their individualism.
This final point is about creating awareness around the legacy that your loved ones have created. This can help them see the purpose and value that they have spent their life building. Spend time talking with your aging companion about what their favorite memories are and what they have valued most about their life. It could be success in their career, the beauty of family they raised, or perhaps a meaningful code they lived by their entire life. What is the message they would share with the entire world if they had the chance to do so?
If you would like to know more about senior care, or are looking for around the clock care in Concord, Salisbury, Kannapolis, China Grove, and the surrounding area, contact us to find out what service we offer! At Senior Helpers, we believe quality care goes beyond meeting the needs of our aging citizens.