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The Importance of Family Time for Seniors


Grandpa carrying grandson on shoulders.

In the later years of life, seniors may become more susceptible to late-life depression. This can be caused by many factors, including the loneliness that may accompany older adults when they start enduring the loss of beloved friends or family members due to old age. Unfortunately, depression can lead to social isolation which is only contributing to the deadly cycle of mental illness. Family can play a major role in supporting seniors in resolving these - sometimes temporary - periods of depression. Depression doesn’t always have to be permanent and there are many ways you can include the elders in your family to participate in day-to-day life that can help spark that childlike fire that still exists in their heart and mind. Explore the benefits below and gather ideas of how you can enhance your loved one’s family life in the upcoming holiday season.

The Benefits

Senior grandparents laughing with granddaughter.

1. Companionship: Cultivating strong, meaningful relationships with their children and grandchildren can provide aging adults with the sense of companionship necessary to fill their life with joy, love and a sense of belonging. Visiting with loved ones or reserving a slot of time for phone calls or video calls could help relieve their bouts of depression and give them something to look forward to. Support networks, which can include family, friends, and neighbors, are an important tool that can better equip older adults while they deal with the changes and challenges that can come with aging.


2. Brain Stimulation: Regular social interaction may provide aging adults with enough mental stimulation to deflect the onset of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. When participating in family outings or simply visiting family for an afternoon, your loved ones can be introduced to scenarios that would require them to use their critical thinking skills while also practicing to retain and process memories. Also, frequent conversation can greatly help sharpen their vocabulary.


3. Physical Health: Inactivity is a common issue in aging adults' lives. The lack of movement can cause muscles to shrink and bone density to decline which would inevitably make standing difficult and even more-so walking. With regular activity, seniors can maintain an ideal weight, strengthen muscles and boost their mental health.

There are many activities that you can suggest for your loved ones to participate in whether an everyday activity or a special one they can look forward to. Get ideas from the list below:

Boiling pot on a stove.

Make dinner together — cooking is a great way to get your loved ones involved! Washing fruits and vegetables; cutting, peeling or shredding ingredients are all great ways to practice using fine motor skills. The best part about cooking is the reward afterwards: dinner! Dinner also provides a special time to sit down, without any distractions, to enjoy a nice meal together and discuss how their day was.


Go on a walk together — whether it’s a spur-of-the-moment decision or a scheduled daily walk together, this activity is perfect for promoting physical and mental health. This may be seen as a special time where a loved one can feel they can have 1-on-1 time with you and can express themselves.


Watch a movie together — Everyone loves movie night! Sitting down together as a whole family to watch new or classic movies is a great way to just be in the presence of family. Cozy up with homemade tea or hot cocoa and a big bowl of popcorn. And I am sure you will get kudos if you pull up a classic movie from their era!


Complete a puzzle together — Not only is puzzling a fantastic way to spend time with family, it can provide everyone with an efficient amount of mental stimulation. Puzzles can help reinforce brain connections, improve mental speed and are an effective way of improving short-term memory.


A senior holding onto her daughters arm.

Run errands together — We all have the weekly, at the very least, task of running to the grocery store, drug store or any kind of store to replenish toiletries or restock the kitchen. Bringing your loved ones along could really relieve a lot of stress for them knowing there's someone close by to give a helping hand or lend an ear to listen to, “Should I get this one or that one?”.


Always remember that you can only do good by inviting your loved ones to partake in family events and outings. Regular family engagement and socialization can help seniors promote physical health, mental health and an overall healthy lifestyle.

 

If you enjoyed this article, you can more like it here! Or, find your new favorite healthy recipe here.

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