100% of us will age – It is HOW we age and how we connect with others that helps us age gracefully. Through our lives, our circumstances constantly change. Children leave for college, grandkids are born, friendships are made, disability or illness may happen, life happens. So, how do we stay connected as our circumstances change around us? Often it takes support or encouragement from family, friends and other members in our community.
Today there are increasing strides and medical advances in healthcare, and we are all living longer than any generation before. With this opportunity, a new group has emerged: those living in their “bonus years.” This group is living much longer than the typical US expectancy of 78 years and is not just existing in life but are thriving. With this longevity comes a desire to enjoy all that life offers and remain “forever 30”.
Sometimes there may come a time when our bodies are not keeping up with our intentions. In these “bonus years” there is becoming a increased demand for interactive caregiving. Lifestyles include: attending plays, shopping with friends, playing golf, or just enjoying a glass of wine. In general- to stay connected. Today as the greatest generation is aging, we have more true seniors than ever before in our lifetime, and not enough opportunities to get involved. This can leave an active senior depressed or isolated. It is just as important to have a great conversation with a neighbor as it is to go for a healthy walk. We should look for more opportunities to engage the social side and be a more interactive caregiver for our loved ones.
What does it mean to be an interactive caregiver? An interactive caregiver encourages others by doing things with them, and not for them. Activities are planned to encourage life long learning, continued growth and creating new opportunities. Interactive time can be spent on the duties and activities that we participated or enjoyed during our lifetime. Some activities may be more challenging as health issues and other physical and mental challenges are involved. It could be as simple as preparing a meal, setting the table, creating a new photo album, or writing family notes. The goal is to work with our loved ones and not for them so there is a higher quality of life. Sometimes for family caregivers, interactive caregiving can be extremely rewarding but also can also be exhausting.
Adult day services, senior community centers, and homecare agencies are a great resource. The interactive caregiving in these services allow for vital regular interaction and socialization with peers with a greater feeling of connectedness and less isolation. Activities should promote physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being, so we may all live
a full and connected life.
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