In a useful and instructive blog post, Bobbi Emel discusses what oldies need if they are to be able to adapt to the falling-to-bits process.
1. A sense of belonging. While many senior communities promote activities, it appears that this is not enough. Old people, like younger ones, desire to be a part of something, to feel like they belong. Service providers (including caregivers) therefore may consider not only providing activities, but also creating communities involving groups of people with common interests and goals.
2. Creating meaning through personal memories and life reviews. Elderly people who pursue personal growth as they age tend to be more resilient in the face of changes. Creating meaning and purpose around the events in one’s life is an effective way to promote growth and, for older people, this can be accomplished through the use of life reviews. A facilitator assists the person to recall their memories and discuss the meaning in events that have occurred throughout her life.
3. Dependence. While dependence is not valued in younger years, resilient seniors are able to re-value dependence as a way for them to adapt to their changing circumstances. It is helpful when they can see that whatever they are still able to offer is a good exchange for depending on others for certain assistance. Service providers may want to emphasize this quid pro quo concept.
4. Openness. This refers to the ability to change and adapt – to be open to new ideas, values, and experiences. Helping seniors to reframe loss and change as a means of redefining oneself may assist in generating more openness. Service providers can also help by acknowledging the openness they perceive in the people they serve.
Read the whole post here.