No matter how involved you might be in your senior loved one’s life, they might still feel lonely, anxious, or depressed. The fact that they are starting to lose their independence has medical issues to tend to, and other problems to address makes their life a little bit trickier. Imagine not being able to enjoy life’s simple pleasure due to your body growing weaker each day. The fact that you are unable to stay by their side every day because you also have a life to live can take a toll on their mental health. What can you do to aid in improving their mental health?
Simply telling your senior loved one to cheer up won’t work. No matter how much positivity they used to radiate, aging and mental issues can cause lead to poor mental health. If you are really serious about helping your senior loved one address their mental health, make sure you know the things you should avoid at all costs.
Forcing Them to Fake Positivity
It is true that sometimes, faking it until you make it works. Smiling and laughing even if you feel like there is nothing to be happy about sometimes works. But then, positive vibes can have a negative side.
Telling a depressed loved one to look on the brighter side can only make matters worse. For one, they might think that you are dismissing their authentic emotions. They might feel like their feelings are not real just because you say they have nothing to worry about.
Toxic positivity does more harm than good to people with poor mental health. This either silences their struggles or squashes their emotions. The least you can do is to let them know that their feelings are valid and that they have every right to feel how they are feeling.
Don’t pressure them to smile and think positively. Instead, listen to them and tell them that it is perfectly okay to not feel ok. You can offer gentle suggestions but never give unsolicited advice.
Make Decisions Without Consulting Them
There are times when one feels like stepping in is the best help they can give to their senior loved one. This is especially true if their aging loved one can no longer make decisions by themselves. But as long as they are still capable of making decisions, make sure you include them in the decision-making.
For instance, your loved one can no longer handle activities of daily living by themselves. This makes them feel anxious and depressed. Instead of choosing to take over and make the decisions on your own, ask their take and opinion on the matter.
If sheltering in place on their own is no longer an option, offer different ways you can ensure they get the assistance they need. Don’t simply call in a caregiver for home care or place them in a nursing home. This can be the beginning of the many arguments and misunderstandings in the future.
Let them know why you want them to consider other housing options instead of sheltering in place. For instance, they made the decision to enter one of the best assisted living facilities in the area. Be sure to be there for them every step of the way and always consult them before making any decision concerning them.
Talking Without Enough Action
Seniors with a poor mental health need more than just your empathy and listening ears. Failure to provide them with timely interventions won’t do their mental health any good. So, before you start talking, make sure you already educated yourself and reached out to a professional adept in cases like this.
Seniors often feel better opening up to other people instead of their loved ones. Everything they are telling may only be scratching the surface. Even their general practitioner might not be enough to address their ongoing mental health issues.
For best results, open up the possibility of talking to the pros that can effectively assess your loved one’s unique mental health battles. They need your support as well as the competent advice and treatment that only the pros have to offer. It is time that we end the stigma that comes with accessing mental health services.
These are but three mistakes people often make when trying to help their aging loved ones deal with their mental health. We need to remember that mental health should be taken more seriously. We should be careful with the words we use to our senior loved ones and the decisions we make. They need our love and support in the most compassionate way. We don’t want to end up being the very reason why their mental health is worsening each day.