Approaching situations with a positive mental attitude often produces a better result. When I was a surly pre-teen, my dad used to tell me “have a positive mental attitude- PMA!” At the time it drove me crazy- especially when Dad called “PMA Jennifer!” as I ran onto the soccer field. But now I see the wisdom in what he said. How I approached different situations really impacted the end result. Entering a soccer game thinking we would lose surely didn’t bode well for our prospects, and approaching an older adult with a positive mental attitude can make a huge difference as well.
In our culture there is a tendency to focus on what elders can’t do relative to years in their prime. When you’re confronted with a new diagnosis or sudden change of mobility for a loved one, it’s natural to think about the challenges. While you needn’t dismiss the very real feelings of sadness and fear about decline and loss, it can be beneficial to consider the many abilities your parent still has. Switching your mindset to focus on the possibilities for engagement, activity, and continued contribution will guide your loved one toward a healthier transition.
Find ways that older adults can continue to participate and bring out their strengths.
- Start with what they already enjoy and find opportunities for them to continue participation, even if it’s in a new or different way. Can’t pick up the bowling ball anymore? Try Wii bowling.
- Be open to new possibilities. There are countless programs for older adults in the community through your local library, senior center, and community organizations.
Utilize Technology to engage loved ones in unique ways, especially when caregiving from a distance.
- Skype or FaceTime facilitate video calls to your friends and family.
- QuizUp is a mobile game with over 500 trivia topics. Players compete in a quick match of seven multiple choice questions. Friends can challenge each other live or let them respond later.
- Social media and photo sharing sites help elders engage in the daily life of their loved ones and friends. They can also connect to those with shared interests.
Approach an elder with a positive outlook and be open to possibilities.
- Try to be aware of your own emotions and tone of voice.
- Think how you might feel if you were in their place. Thinking about your loved one’s perspective may help you communicate your concerns and ideas more effectively.
In his prime, my Dad played a lot of tennis, sailed, and traveled as much as possible. He still does these things, but approaches them differently. He plays doubles tennis now and takes frequent breaks to hydrate and stretch. He still sails but lets someone else captain the vessel. And he’s found a world of travel, social, and intellectual opportunities await him through Road Scholar and Elderhostel. Approach your loved one with a positive mental attitude, despite all the challenges, and see the possibilities that can emerge.
You don’t have to figure this out on your own. Care.com’s Adult & Senior Care Advisors are here to help. Call us at (855) 781-1303 to see how your loved one can keep active and engaged in life to the best of their abilities.