Whether your parent lives at home or in an assisted living facility, it’s not uncommon if he or she feels lonely and sad. The good thing is that with enough family concern and interaction, you can help prevent those feelings from spiraling into potential major depression.
Get outside together
Fresh air and sunshine can be huge mood boosters, so make it a point to take a walk together around the block or cruise a wheelchair out into the garden once or twice a week. This will provide your loved one with something to look forward to and provide them with a healthy source of vitamin D.
Share a meal
Think of how many years your parents might have cooked for a table full of people, all with constant chatter in the kitchen. Now that everyone is gone, silence during meals can be really lonely. Choose a specific day to have dinner with your loved one, and bring the grandkids if they’re available. Whether you eat in or venture out to a restaurant, dining together creates much needed family bonding time that seniors truly enjoy.
Offer to help with housework
It’s hard for seniors to ask for help, but it’s easy for them to get overwhelmed with household chores. Without insinuating that they can’t do it themselves, stop by and ask if you can throw in a load of laundry, mow the grass, or load the dishwasher. Chances are the smallest bit of help will leave them with a big sigh of relief.
Make them laugh
The old saying “Laughter is the best medicine” couldn’t be more true. In fact, a 2016 study from Nursing Open showed that when older adults at an elderly daycare center watched stand-up comedy once a week for four weeks, they all experienced reduced systolic blood pressure, heart rate, and depression. They also had increased concentrations of serotonin— a mood-enhancing chemical in the brain that creates calmness and happiness. Long story short, laughter is a sure way to boost your loved one’s mood, so watch a funny movie together, play a silly game, or let them tell you a favorite joke you’ve heard a million times before. It will pretty much guarantee that they’ll be smiling when you leave.
Teach them to use technology
While electronic gadgets can be initially overwhelming for older adults, modern technology offers a world of ways to beat loneliness. Buy a tablet or smartphone, and show your loved one how to play games such as Words With Friends with your kids. You can also set up a Facetime or Zoom account to allow them to enjoy live interaction with family members who don’t live nearby. And if you do suspect that your senior could be depressed, encourage them to create an account with an online mental health service. Counseling can be a great proactive approach to keeping your loved one safe, happy, and healthy.