Nurturing Seniors with Purpose
“There are certain things that are fundamental to human fulfillment. The essence of these needs is captured in the phrase 'to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy'. The need to live is our physical need for such things as food, clothing, shelter, economical well-being, health. The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. The need to learn is our mental need to develop and to grow. And the need to leave a legacy is our spiritual need to have a sense of meaning, purpose, personal congruence, and contribution”
~Stephen R. Covey
How can we nurture seniors? Well, the obvious things are the things we all provide for like food, shelter, clothing, etc. - the “to live” part of the above quote. But, loving, learning, and leaving a legacy may be a little tricky. How do we help a senior in our care toward a sense of purpose and meaning when it may be tough to just physically get through the day?
Living Life to the Fullest
Seniors are often feeling isolated and bored when they cannot get around much and have serious physical limitations. So, how can you help a senior with loving? Maybe a pet in a shelter could use rescuing. Maybe a child in the family could use some tutoring or mentoring. Maybe another senior could use a daily phone call. There are people and small creatures in need of love everywhere. Offering opportunities or setting up opportunities for a senior in your care to provide love to a pet, a child, or another person can give that sense of being needed and fulfill that basic human instinct to love another.
What about learning? Well, nowadays, you can find more than boring re-runs on tv. There are all sorts of documentary shows on programs like “Netflix” or on demand type services. What type of thing interests your elderly loved one? Learning is a life-long endeavor and some communities even have senior classes that are offered free or at a reduced charge. Some senior centers also offer transportation so that someone can keep learning long after school is out!
Leaving a legacy is one of those things that is very individual to the person. But, so often, we forget who that person was before they became frail or very ill. They often had tremendous lives full of adventure, contribution, and talent. How can you help the person in your care honor and celebrate their lives? Maybe just the act of making a scrap book together can show the life well-lived. Maybe doing taped interviews so the person can record their “story” for others to hear will help a senior realize and remember all the ways in which they have left a legacy already and spark the imagination about ways to continue that legacy.
A Sense of Purpose
Even just feeling useful can be a boost to an elderly person who is feeling isolated or depressed. Can they shell beans? Can they organize or help file. Everyone needs to feel like they are contributing to something larger than themselves. Find ways to encourage participation. You may be surprised how much a person perks up knowing that they are making real contributions to just the household. Find other fun activities to do with seniors around the house to counteract a sense of isolation.
A sense of purpose may not be a basic necessity like food and shelter – but doing what we can to help elderly people feel connected and useful is one of the most nurturing things we can do.
Caregiver Self Care
Managing Stress (with bonus free guided meditation!)
Your Care Journey
Avoiding Caregiver Isolation