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Self-help for the Elderly

An old man excited to see a friend

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


June 6, 2020

Did you know that the term “self-care” didn’t become mainstream until 2016? Wellness and a healthy lifestyle aren’t new ideas, but the concept of self-care introduces another layer. The underlying belief is that you can’t adequately take care of others without also taking care of yourself.

Many seniors have spent most of their lives taking care of other people, including their children and grandchildren. Self-care or self help for the elderly can be challenging because they’re used to putting the needs of others first.

Can you relate to that? If you’re a senior who wants to thrive in your golden years, basic self-care activities are a must. Keep reading to learn more!

Self-Care for the Elderly: 5 Activities to Try

Not sure what’s involved in self-help or self care activities? Don’t worry—you don’t have to go on a month-long yoga retreat or limit your diet to kale salads.

Here are 5 simple self-help suggestions that are ideal for seniors.

1. Keep a Gratitude Journal

The aging process is easier for some than others. Seniors who struggle with ongoing health problems or financial concerns may feel disheartened and pessimistic.

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” is a healthy way to combat those negative thoughts. Even in situations that are out of our control, it’s always possible to find something to be thankful for. Feeling grateful for the good things in our life (no matter how small) will lead to greater happiness and better health.

Keep a notebook by your bed and start a nightly routine of writing 3-5 things you were grateful for that day. Remember, these don’t have to be major life-changing events. It could be something as simple as a beautiful sunrise or a phone call from the kids. 

2. Spend More Time in Nature

People who spend too little time in natural settings are more likely to experience poor health and dissatisfaction with life. Seniors especially may struggle to spend an adequate amount of time outdoors each week.

The benefits of immersing ourselves in nature are many. Breathing fresh air into our lungs or feeling warm sunlight on our skin gives us a mental boost we simply can’t get anywhere else. Even the simple act of petting a dog can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress hormones.

Going for a walk in the woods or along the beach should be a regular part of your self-care routine. Sit on a bench beside a river or the sea and listen to the sound of the water. If you’re stuck in the city, seek out a quiet park or garden to help you stay connected to nature.

3. Try Natural Remedies

Many seniors grew up in an environment where “alternative” remedies were ignored or dismissed. In recent years, however, scientists have discovered countless benefits of treating our ailments naturally.

Instead of reaching for the pain pills the next time you have a headache, why not try a neck massage pillow? Rather than relying on prescription drugs to combat anxiety, have you tried diffusing essential oils that naturally help you feel calmer? Did you know that drinking a cup of ginger tea is a natural way to lower your blood pressure?

Of course, you’ll want to check with your doctor before you add any herbs or supplements to your diet. But you might be surprised by the number of conditions you can treat with natural remedies.

4. Reconnect With Old Hobbies (Or Start New Ones)

What did you enjoy doing in your younger years? Were you a painter? A golfer? A musician? A writer?

It’s only natural for some hobbies to fall by the wayside during our working years. Now that you’re older and have more free time, why not take up some activities you used to love? Set aside dedicated time each week (or even each day) to reconnect with your younger self and your favorite hobbies.

Another option would be to start a new hobby. Have you been meaning to join a book club, try gentle yoga, or sign up for a photography class? Finding a new activity you love could be the perfect jump-start in your self-care routine.

5. Make Weekly Plans With Loved Ones

Loneliness can affect us all, and it can be a real challenge for many seniors. The best way to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation is to schedule weekly plans with friends and family members.

Start by making plans with those who live nearby. Invite them over for dinner or make a reservation at a restaurant you enjoy. If you feel more energetic during the daytime, swap the dinner idea for a lunch date or a morning coffee at the park. Write it down on your calendar to make it official.

What about your loved ones who live far away? Thanks to technology, you can stay as connected and socially active as you like. Schedule time each week to get together virtually through Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime.

The great thing about these platforms is it’s not just an auditory experience. You can enjoy seeing everyone through the video features too. If you need help setting up your computer or phone, don’t be afraid to ask the grandkids for help!

Self-Help for the Elderly: Make It a Priority

Seniors who have spent their lives taking care of others may find it a challenge to set aside time for themselves. In today’s increasingly stressful world, though, all of us need to make time to refresh and rejuvenate ourselves. If you’re not sure where to start, refer back to this list of self care activities for adults and seniors.

Keep in mind that this won’t require a radical lifestyle change. All it takes is setting aside time each day to do something good for you!

Self-help for the elderly is a great goal, but what about seniors who also need practical help from others? Click here to learn more about our at-home personal care services for seniors or call our Care Team today at 434.202.8565.

Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or medication routine.