Evaluating the Social Needs of the Elderly

Life leads everyone to the Golden Years. In the past, reaching old age was a time to sit on the rocking chair in the balcony and watch the world go by. Those days are gone. Today’s older generation, the elderly, are learning to be proactive. Many elderly are wired and marvel at the wonders of technology.

This is a promising era for the elderly. With the advent of information technology, into the 21st century, health of mind, body and spirit are as important as our careers. The Elixir of Youth has not been discovered, but technology has made advances in the battle against aging—delays the aging process for a while.

Realistically, the aches and pains of getting old come nagging in the quiet of the night, or in the wee hours of the morning, or just about at anytime. Add skeletal and muscular aches and pains and a list of medical conditions that creep up as we get older. Should this condition limit one’s activities? This needs a serious thought. It is proven that keeping active is good for physical, mental and emotional health.

While we all need a quiet time, for the elderly, days can be very long if they are inactive. It is easy for an elderly person to feel alone and isolated, or feel guilty of being a burden. This feeling gets more serious if there is no social life to give a semblance of balance between action and inaction. Interaction helps to keep the elderly in touch with current events. Social contacts add value to their lives, encourages them to stay connected with people and keep abreast of current events. Simple social activities add sparkle to their days. There is always something to look forward to tomorrow.

There is a lot the younger generation can learn from their elderly relatives or friends. It is said that society have the tools needed to age gracefully. But there are many cases where the mobility of the elderly relative is limited.This does not mean that they should be confined to the four walls of their home. Families should discuss how to share in the responsibility of visitation and a day out for their elders. It warms the heart of the elderly to know someone cares. Emotionally, this is very important. There are community services that are dedicated to take care of the needs of the elderly. But some attention from a caring family member or friend lifts their spirits and feel that yes, they are loved, and there is more to life than counting the hours go by.

Geography separates families and friends. We live in a highly mobile world. Even with the advent of travel, visiting relatives is not that easy. Career and family responsibilities contribute to infrequent family gatherings. It is up to the younger members of the family to show more concern for their elders.
Surely, you have pleasant memories of yesteryears.

Encourage them to nurture their friendships. Open discussions about accessibility to services, keeping in contact with friends and neighbors is critical. Someone in the family should volunteer to be the contact in case of emergency. There are social activities in most communities meant for the elderly population. Encourage your elder to check into these and find a buddy who will enjoy these with them. Attending church services is a way to keep in touch with the community. There are exercise classes for seniors, this is not only healthy, it can be fun. A trip to the library with a friend can be interesting, and make a side trip for coffee. Take them out shopping, make a social event of it. An occasional dining out can be interesting.

With time on their hands, social activities keep life interesting, healthier and meaningful. Keeping active makes each sunrise brighter and welcome each day with happy thoughts. It is important to be out there socially and be an active member of society. It takes the mind off the aches and pains and the loneliness of old age.

Nicole Thomas

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