Sadly, the elderly are prone to sadness for reasons such as losing friends and loved ones, loneliness, isolation, change in living arrangements and a decline in their physical and mental health. Happiness and contentment can enhance an individual’s overall wellbeing, so finding out what makes them happy is a great way to redirect feelings of sadness.
Happiness is a vital aspect of life that everyone is entitled to. By helping others experience happiness, especially the elderly, you are making the world a better place one person at a time. Whether it be family members or care home residents, fulfilling the medical needs of the elderly is a basic human right and is most of the time not enough to make an individual happy.
There are many different ways you can help bring on happiness in older adults, from joining in with their hobbies to diving into their family history, here are our top tips for making elderly people happy.
Being social contributes massively to a person’s mental health and wellbeing. It’s easy for elderly individuals to feel isolated and alone, especially if they move into a new living environment with new, unfamiliar people. Ensuring they stay connected with their loved ones is a great way to make them feel safe and loved. For most older adults, their family and close friends bring the most joy, with just regular phone calls, visits and kind acts, they will feel connected and cared for.
Equally, for older adults who are living in care, a good way to keep them connected with fellow residents and other care home staff is to help them get involved in activities. These activities are the perfect way to engage and connect with other residents. Arranging meetings and visits from friends and family members is another lovely way to help keep care home residents connected with their loved ones.
Most individuals feel happy when they feel that they can contribute. No matter how small the task is, from folding laundry to writing a shopping list, these small tasks can make the elderly person feel useful. It’s common for elderly people to feel like a burden but asking for bits of help here and there can help assure them that they are just as needed and valuable as anyone else in this world.
Of course, it’s best to ask for help with tasks that the elderly person is able to do with ease as if they can’t do it due to physical or mental decline, it may make them feel upset.
It’s a known fact that physical activity is one of the best ways to release endorphins. According to research, increased physical activity is a suggested factor in reducing the risks of cognitive impairment in older adults. Some older adults may be more agile than others, so it’s important to learn their abilities and what kinds of physical activity they are capable of. From brisk walks to chair exercises, there is a range of exercises that are accessible for most, helping blood flow, heart health and relieving anxiety and depression.
A great way to encourage elderly individuals to introduce physical activity into their daily routines is by asking them to dance! Put on some of their favourite music and ask them to show you how to Waltz, the combination of music and physical touch is a recipe for happiness. This is also a perfect way to bring an elderly family member or care home resident out of their shell and is a lovely way to let loose and have fun.
In this current day and age, it’s common for elders to feel cast aside and not a valued part of society, when in fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The elderly have so much wisdom and value to pass on to the younger generations and this can easily be conveyed through engaging in conversation.
By listening properly to the elderly, you can learn a lot from them, from life lessons to funny stories, the conversations are endless. By using careful listening techniques such as asking questions to do with what they are talking about, asking them to elaborate and showing that you are engaged, older adults will feel more valued and feel that they have provided you with some of their knowledge and wisdom.
If this person is a close family member, it could be good to record some conversations in the hope of preserving family memories, with their consent, of course. This is a great way to let your elderly relatives know that their life has had (and still has) a lot of meaning to those around them.
Everyone has their own favourite hobbies, and sharing them with others brings so much joy. Asking to join in with or for an older person to share their hobby with you is a kind way to make them happy.
Enjoying regular hobbies is also a useful way to keep their mind engaged, helping prolong brain function and memory as well as keeping depression at bay. If the older person can no longer enjoy their favourite hobby due to health and accessibility reasons, you can get creative. Perhaps their favourite hobby is golfing, but they are no longer able to walk around the course, take them to watch a game together.
Reading, writing and mental puzzles such as crosswords, sudoku and other board games are a great way to have some fun and don’t require much energy if physical ability is an issue.
Most elderly people are particularly proud of their family history and heritage, by asking them to share it with you, they may feel happy that you are interested in them. Taking a walk down memory lane is bound to bring a smile to an older adults face. You can ask them to show you pictures and tell you stories that they remember.
If the elderly person does not know much about their family history or heritage, you could embark on researching it for them. Taking some time to do this for them, not only will it allow them to gain knowledge about their history, they will feel special, valued and happy.
According to research, the older people get, the better they are at regulating their emotions. They begin to look at experiences and challenges with a positive attitude and have a generally more positive outlook on life.
However, for those experiencing major changes to health, lifestyle or living environment, it can be easier to slip into feelings of sadness. If the elder person seems to be struggling with their mind and their outlook, it could be helpful to introduce them to the concept of gratitude and help them surround themselves with people who lift them up.
By switching to a more optimistic mindset and making exciting plans to look forward to, the older person can maintain a more positive life experience.