Across the world, many so-called developed countries are experiencing population decline as a large volume of the population moves into their silver years. This means a larger burden on the young to pay for state services that help the elderly and more attention paid to older people who experience health difficulties. In this article, we’ll take a look at the various ways that you can help your own elderly relatives and the elderly population at large. This is set to be a growing concern in the coming years, so knowing how to help could be both rewarding and profitable for your future.
Supporting Elderly Relatives
Whether it’s your grandparents reaching a critical age in terms of health issues or your parents approaching their retirement, as a younger person, there are several ways in which you can help them ease into life as a senior citizen. One of the most important is simple emotional support: being there for family members who might find it difficult to transition to a new phase of life.
This form of support means spending quality time with your parents and your grandparents. Take the time out of your own busy schedule to organize a fun and accessible day out, or otherwise pop over for a cup of coffee to discuss how they’re settling into a new lifestyle. If your seniors are experiencing health issues, be there for them – in terms of helping them to hospitals and clinics or simply asking how they feel over the phone on a regular basis.
As a son or daughter, you might feel that you don’t have a huge say in what your parents do when they retire. That’s quite right: you shouldn’t be the person who bursts in to tell them when and how they should be retiring. At the same time, though, for parents who have been working for the vast majority of their lives, the move to not working at all can come as quite a shock – and can leave them feeling demotivated, lazy, and anxious.
Bearing this in mind, you should certainly be present in the retirement of your folks. Don’t necessarily force activities down their throats, but it’s worth being there for them as they find endless free time to greet them on retirement. Offer some advice and some support for this pivotal moment in the life of a senior citizen so that they have things to look forward to rather than a career to look back on with nostalgia.
Senior citizens tend to require more healthcare than younger people. That’s because bodies do start to deteriorate slightly as they age, and long-term health issues can come home to roost, leaving your elderly relatives or friends in a less mobile state than they once enjoyed. This is generally seen as a natural part of getting old – but that’s not to say that it’s not painful, difficult, and traumatic for those involved.
As a younger person, you can help here. You can get your parents or grandparents linked up to Telehealth services that’ll get them seen from the comfort of their own living rooms. You can organize support systems in their home and medication to be delivered to their front door. And you can help them adapt to a new normal in which they’re living with a long-term health issue, sometimes chronic and sometimes even fatal, through your love and support.
There’s a reason that sitcoms and dramas often feature the moment when a younger family member attempts to encourage an elderly relative into care. These moments are taught with misinterpreted intentions and strong emotions, as senior citizens do not necessarily wish to surrender their freedoms in old age. Your task here is to think of the best interests of your elderly relatives; are they a danger to themselves, or can they go on living without a care assistant at hand?
If you feel that your relative is in danger of a fall or other health issues if they live alone or with their spouse, you can have two options. One is to organize live-in care, which would mean asking a carer to be present in the home of your relative in case of issues. The other option is to book a room in a care home, which provides stellar services to elderly people while keeping them as safe, happy, and comfortable as possible. The choice isn’t yours: it’s something to make alongside your elderly relative.
As the population ages, more and more people will be approaching the end of life. That’s something that we cannot avoid – even if it means more crowded mortuaries and a busier funeral schedule. For elderly relatives, that means two things: the slow loss of friends who they have known for decades, and the inevitable loss of their spouse, which can come as an incredibly painful experience that you will, of course, wish to support them through.
Bereavement touches generations differently. A loss when you are 20 feels different from one when you are 70. But there are still similarities, especially if the person who has passed away was a very close person in your life. Be there for your elderly relatives whenever they experience a loss, offering to help them to the funeral, stay with them for a period of time, or offer any other support that you can while you continue to observe your own domestic and personal responsibilities.
You can also make career choices that can help both your elderly relatives and the elderly relatives of others. There are several ways in which you can do this, from learning how to provide care to the elderly via an assisted living manager certification to changing your healthcare career so that you’re catering to the aging population we’re seeing in several countries worldwide.
When it comes to making a career choice that’ll help the elderly as their constituency grows, you should always look to your own skills and capabilities before taking the plunge. Working with the elderly is often a deeply satisfying experience – and one that many people find meaningful as a career choice. Do your research on elderly care careers in order to find the right path for you in the present circumstances.
Acts of Kindness
The pandemic has taught us many things. One of the best lessons we’ve taken from it is that we are able to rapidly bind together as communities in order to offer support to the neediest around us. Often, during the pandemic, at least, that meant knocking on the doors of elderly neighbors to check whether they needed any groceries or if they wouldn’t just fancy a little chat at a safe distance on the doorstep – after all, loneliness is something that affects many older people.
Acts of kindness such as these do not go unnoticed. They’re incredibly important for showing the elderly population that you care – that they’re not just a burden on society but valued members of that society. Wherever you can, try to practice this kindness. You can help someone across the street, stoop to pick up a dropped item, or just say hello in the local park. All of these acts can serve to validate older people while showing them the respect that they’re earned from a long and vibrant life.
To go a step beyond simple acts of kindness, you could also consider getting involved in a charity that caters specifically to the elderly. There are several of these that are likely to be present in your local community. Some deliver meals to those who find it difficult to cook or even to leave their homes. Some run groups that provide entertainment or social opportunities for elderly people who might be starved of such experiences. All are focussed on making the lives of the senior citizens around you a little better.
To find these opportunities, all you need to do is search online. You might also find it beneficial to share posts with friends on your social media about trying to get involved in a charity organization. If you’re struggling to find opportunities to volunteer your time, consider instead donating to a charity that supports the elderly across the country. They, too, could use your support.
All too often, we see generations as divided. We believe that older people hold different politics from their younger relatives and that older people are interested in completely different things. This belief serves to further divide the generations, even though they’re not so far apart as we might think. Perpetuating this myth of separate generations will only serve to further isolate elderly people, who already have smaller social lives than the young and the vibrant.
Instead, try to build bridges across the generational divide. You can start with a family member or neighbor – asking them what they think about contemporary issues and what it was like growing up decades ago. Keep going, exploring the lives of elderly people, to tap into their wisdom and their wealth of life experience. O)older people are to be cherished as wise sentinels of the past, and it’s to be hoped that you can be a wise interpreter of the future to them in the very same breath.
When you have a growing percentage of the population that’s not working, you’ll find that younger people have to pay the price in terms of taxes to support elderly people. This is certainly happening in places such as the US, the UK, and the EU, where elderly people and their care needs are a major political concern for governments present and future. Younger people might feel a little as if they’re hard-done-by in this regard – that they have to pay more to support a large portion of the population who is now out of work. But that’s the wrong way of looking at the present situation.
Older people have had tough lives. They’ve had to graft for their careers, and they’ve worked from a young age. They built the world we currently live in, and they have earned a break. So demonizing elderly people for taking more of the federal government’s tax receipts isn’t a wise move. Instead, you can actually support elderly people by paying your tax in full. Keep working towards your own career goals, but at the same time, be willing to give back to the generation that built the marvelous world you’re now enjoying.
These tips will help you support elderly people around you – be they family, friends, neighbors, or the population at large. Bear them in mind in order to be a positive force as the population ages further into the future.