Elderly parents. We love them, we just can’t be there for them every minute. If you have an elderly parent who experiences such symptoms as increasing forgetfulness, mental confusion, memory loss, difficulty performing daily tasks, restlessness, agitation, confusion, and changes in mood or behavior, it can be emotionally draining to try to deal with all the time.
On the other hand, it can be heartbreaking to watch that elderly parent losing the battle as they try to deal with everything themselves.
So how can you help an elderly parent feel better without being emotionally drained and unable to function in your own life and family? The answer is that the more contacts you have with them the better, even if short. While ideally, you would have a Moodspark Digital Companion there for them all the time, the more you can be in contact with them during the key times, the better off they will be.
If you only have limited time, here are some of the best times to call or reach out to your elderly parent:
Connecting in the morning
A nice breakfast or morning call can go a long way. For seniors, mealtimes can be challenging, especially when they are spent alone. Many studies, such as this one from 2016 have drawn a strong correlation between the elderly eating alone and experiencing depressive symptoms.
At the same time, many parents raising children define themselves by their children and are given purpose by them. Once the children get older and do not seem to need the parent’s constant guidance and protection, that parent can experience feelings of emptiness. Parents often define themselves by their mission and goal of raising the best children possible and making sure they survive. It can become easy for an elderly parent who now feels disconnected from that mission to feel a sense of usefulness or purpose. As a result, it is easier to for them to feel bored or depressed as they search for meaning out of their continued existence.
Calling in the morning allows for them to feel loved by way of their children checking in on them, and feel like they have not been cast away or forgotten. It also allows for you to “assign” them activities and missions for the day so they are able to be preoccupied with that instead of feeling bored, lonely, and without purpose.
Connecting around Sundown
Did you know that as the sun goes down it can trigger a range of negative responses in the elderly? Similar to how seasonal affective disorder can cause depression in healthy high-functioning adults due to the normal sunlight that comes with long summer days turning into weeks or months of limited light and increased periods of darkness, so too can the elderly experience a range of negative emotions and responses as the sun goes down and each day turns into night.
Some of the most common issues the elderly often face during this time of increased darkness are:
Wandering or Pacing
Calling and talking to your elderly parent around the time it transitions to the evening can help reduce the effects of the anxiety, fear, depression, or social isolation that they are likely to be experiencing around this time. Additionally, you will be able to determine if they are experiencing sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, or unmet physical needs such as hunger, pain, and fatigue – all of which can play a large role in your elderly parent’s mindset and comfort.
While the symptoms described above can often vary in degree and frequency based on the person, it is usually a good idea to check in with your elderly parent daily, if not twice a day in the morning and evening. Being a constant presence that can reconnect them with reality and reinforce their connection to grounded thinking, pleasant memories, and a sense of purpose can have an incredibly powerful impact on your elderly parent’s life. At Moodspark, we are focused on designing ways to help ease the burden this may present for the child of an elderly person by automating as much of the process as possible. You can check out our latest device to cure loneliness and minimize disorientation, depression, and loneliness here: Moodspark