Bound by love and empathy we could sometimes inadvertently disable the very people that we love.
How can that happen?
By lending too much help to the elderly, bringing them that cup of water, conceding to their inclination not to push themselves to move and exercise, encouraging them to stay lazy, at home sitting on the couch not doing much moving, and not being productive at all, and whether it’s out of love, sympathy, sense of respect, sense of duty, you name it, we are consequently disabling them.
Their body needs to make the extra effort, their muscles have to maintain their strength, and most importantly, their brain needs to keep thinking, analyzing, solving problems, remembering. Otherwise, their body and mental capabilities start to gradually wither.
We must differentiate between what respect, kindness, care, love, and the Holiest most sacred duty is, and what is scientifically required to keep them in their best possible condition. It might be annoying at first, they might resent it, but they’ll eventually love it and see the hidden wisdom.
Support your elderly to be active, do things for themselves, be independent, even be productive according to their passion or area of expertise. It will give them a sense of purpose as opposed to being prisoners of their own weaknesses, counting the days till they depart. It’s a slow suicide, and if you encourage it, you’re an accomplice !!
Life doesn’t end at 65 or 70, on the contrary, there’s still a lot to give now that they are freed from job restrictions. This is the time when all the years of experience can be put as guidance to the younger generation.
I cannot accept that an older person has to just sit and lay down counting days, being unproductive to himself or to society. People nowadays live till they reach their 90s, so are we to waste 30 years of our lives doing NOTHING?!!
First and most importantly, they need to keep exercising. The body and muscle system are one’s best support. No one in the world can benefit a person as much as his body can, and this amazing machine is capable of miracles. They need to eat right and keep moving. Encouraging them to just sit on the sofa, having food and drinks be brought to them isn’t respectful, it’s a killer. An easy way out to keep them from going around the house doing stuff. Just like we keep a baby sedated with an iPad when we don’t want him making a mess.
Next, they need to remain productive and have a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and to feel that they are indeed needed. They MUST do something everyday, whether it’s reading, writing, painting, helping with the grandchildren, garden or decoration. Whatever they’re passionate about, even if it’s slightly physically demanding. At the very least, give them puzzles to solve in those “absolutely must rest” times.
You want to show love and care and spoil them, then by all means give them a massage, go with them to Yoga classes, take them for walks, teach them how to use the iPad and research stuff, then let them do it for themselves. Don’t give them concise ready answers, let them read, research and discover, they need to keep those brain cells working.
Some will say “But you can’t ignore the fact that their physical and mental capabilities are not the same, you cannot force them to do activities”. Wrong!!
It is undoubtedly undeniable that the body and mind are not as able as they used to be in childhood and middle age, but then again their abilities did NOT drop to zero either, so do not cause them to. We see people who live with actual disabilities, yet they are able to outperform some who are perfectly capable. Stephen Hawking is an excellent example of a person who’s completely paralyzed, yet able to remain incredibly productive. We’ve also seen many examples of older people who are a lot more capable physically than their younger counterparts.
Don’t disable them. Motivate them to become stronger, more active and independent. Ensure taking enough safety measures just like you would for a child.
Help them help themselves !! Love them in the right way just like you do your children !!