With people living much longer now than they did generations ago, the retirement phase of life continues to lengthen in duration, making it even more important for seniors to have a happy and fulfilling retirement. Even for those in senior living communities, self-satisfaction and fulfillment come from striving for goals and continuously bettering themselves. September is National Self-Improvement Month, which provides the perfect opportunity for you to help your loved one identify ways they can be the best possible version of themselves. Whether physically, emotionally, or mentally, self-improvement goals for seniors can come in all shapes and sizes. The following personal development areas will increase your parent’s self-confidence, improve their health, and boost their self-esteem.
An important aspect of self-improvement involves keeping the senior’s body active and healthy. Staying physically active on a regular basis can help your parent maintain their independence as they get older and improve the health of those with diseases that accompany aging. Your loved one can begin by taking a daily stroll through their community’s walking paths, which will keep their respiratory and circulatory systems working well. Residents can additionally take advantage of an array of exercise classes offered by their community. For those with physical disabilities, class offerings such as tai chi, yoga, and aquatic exercises provide a low-impact workout while improving joint and muscle health.
Physical fitness doesn’t go far without healthy eating habits. Help your parent start small by choosing one nutritious, healthy food a day to substitute for something they know they should cut out. For example, instead of having a sandwich with a bag of chips, they should choose a piece of fruit instead. This will help them to evaluate their diet to see how well they eat and where they can change it. Making just a few small adjustments in their diet can have a substantial impact on your loved one’s health and the way they view themselves.
While many know that exercising their bodies is a vital part of personal development, they often neglect to exercise their minds. You should encourage your parent to engage in activities that challenge their brains to improve their memory function, boost creativity, and reduce boredom.
Your loved one can use a variety of tools to help keep their mind active and healthy. You can help them choose a book to read in their community’s library, sign them up for a computer course, or play challenging games with them such as chess or bridge. You can also help them complete word puzzles, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, and games such as Sudoku. Another great way to improve mental health is by learning something new. Activities such as painting, playing musical instruments, and making crafts promote problem solving while improving dexterity. Additionally, your parent’s community likely has a collection of brain-stimulating class offerings where they can enjoy a new hobby such as woodworking, gardening, or baking.
The final aspect of self-growth involves improving the spirit or emotional well-being of the senior. Good emotional health promotes satisfaction, self-esteem, a sense of purpose, and a sense of belonging. One great way to improve spiritual wellness is meditation, which trains people to focus their attention and awareness on positive thoughts. It also promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety, and calms the mind. This can be especially helpful for a parent or loved one with memory impairments and chronic diseases as it allows them to cope with the stress of their illness by distancing themselves from negative thoughts.
Volunteering their time at a local charity or non-profit agency offers another avenue through which your parent or loved one can better themselves. They can help fill boxes at a food pantry, read to children at a school, or sort items at a shelter. Volunteering benefits seniors by increasing social participation and giving them a greater sense of purpose.
Finally, help your parent to make new friends and grow their social circle in the community. Encourage them to step out of their comfort zone, open their mind, and put themselves in situations where they can meet new people. These social connections reduce the risk of isolation and depression in seniors, in addition to providing a deep sense of belonging.
September is the perfect time to help your parent find the areas they want to improve and dedicate the entire month to reforming those areas. Though self-improvement isn’t something you can accomplish for your loved one, you can assist them and encourage them along the way.