Every time we turn on the television or flip through a magazine, we are bombarded with advertising for anti-aging creams, hair coloring to get the grey out, teeth whiteners, and weight loss programs. These constant messages to be thinner, smoother, and younger can take their toll. We may feel like age is a battle for us to win or somehow conquer. Don’t let these messages get you down or negatively affect your or your aging parent. Confidence is important at any age.
Many seniors feel less self-assured as they age, for several reasons. Significant changes in their life and health can rock their confidence to the core and leave them feeling out of control. Boosting self-esteem can help you live independently longer, feel happy, and increase a sense of wellbeing.
- Stay Connected. No matter if you are 9 years old or 90, we all want to have strong friendships and close family connections. According to studies, senior citizens who are surrounded by supportive family and close friends have higher self-esteem. Staying actively involved and keeping these important social connections is essential for happiness and confidence. Help your parent stay connected by offering to drive them to meet friends, host gatherings with family members, program their phone with phone numbers for family members and friends and encourage them to get out of the house to meet with others. Socializing can be a great confidence booster.
- Reduce Fall Risks. Help your parent stay steady on their feet and feeling strong. If they are less likely to fall, your parent will be more confident getting around and being able to care for themselves. Encourage them to take a balance class, strength training with a coach, or try a chair yoga class at a local senior center. Offer to walk with them regularly to keep up their strength and stamina. A decline in their health and strength can lead to a loss of confidence and a lower self-esteem.
- Shattering Negative Stereotypes. Our society inundates us with negative images and messaging about aging. When you interact with your parent stay positive and allow them to talk about their feelings. Let them know that you respect them and value their contributions to your life. If they are self-conscious about their limitations, reassure them about their lack of stamina, mobility issues, hearing loss, weight loss, or weight gain. Let them know that they have nothing to be ashamed about and we all have our own limitations. Accepting the changes in their life gracefully can help them feel confident.
- Home Renovations. A loss of independence will often result in a dip in confidence. Get a step ahead of fall risks by installing handrails in their bathroom, checking that rugs are secure, and making sure pathways in their house are clear of obstacles for easy walking. Keep frequently used items within reach and organized for ease of use. By giving them the tools and ability to live safely in their home, you can boost their confidence in caring for themselves and continuing to live independently.
- Ask for Their Input. Your parent is a source of wisdom, advice, and experience. Ask them for their advice or input to help you work through a problem that has you stumped. Whether you need deep insight on a serious question or relationship issue or a more lighthearted inquiry about gardening tips, cooking recipes, or house maintenance, being helpful or having a sense of purpose can really boost their confidence.
- Stay Engaged in Current Events. Ask questions, share news, and get their viewpoints about the world and current events. Based on their personal experience and wisdom, they may have interesting insights about how they view the world. Show your interest in their ideas, viewpoints, and input to boost to their confidence. Even if you may not agree, a respectful conversation can be insightful and keeps them engaged in the world around them.
- Be Patient. Try to be compassionate and understanding when interacting with your elderly parent. Hearing issues can be misconstrued as a lack of understanding. A lack of stamina can be misinterpreted as stubborn. Your parent may be facing limitations but try to be gentle and treat them with dignity. Compassion can help them feel cared for and confident.
These 6 tips can be useful for you, as well as your parent who may be facing and internalizing doubts about their life, health, and even appearance that they may not express or share with you. These dips in confidence can lead to stress and even depression. Engaging with your parent and allowing them to share concerns will allow you to solve problems about their confidence together.
Learn more about our Life Enrichment programs at Aegis Living and how our residents stay connected, active and engaged, by visiting the community near you.