Two ways to improve an elderly relative's physical and mental wellbeing

Posted on: 12 May 2017

The aging process and the decline in health that often accompanies it can have a huge impact on an older person's quality of life. It can affect their mobility levels, their independence and their mental well-being. If you have an elderly relative and are concerned about their health (both physical and mental), here are a couple of things you can do to help them.

Have their hearing tested

As people age, they often find that their hearing deteriorates; this is referred to as presbycusis. Whilst presbycusis does not present any immediate risk to a person's health, if left untreated, it can have a detrimental impact on their mental health.

An inability to hear what those around them are saying may leave them feeling frustrated, embarrassed and excluded. These feelings may lead to them avoiding their usual social activities. Social isolation may, in turn, result in them becoming depressed and unable to look after themselves.

Hearing problems can also make it harder for an older person to engage in or enjoy solitary forms of entertainment, such as watching a film on the television or listening to their favourite radio show, because they cannot understand what is being said. This, too, may have a negative impact on their mental wellbeing.

As such, it is very important to have your elderly relative's hearing tested on a regular basis (ideally, about twice per year). This will ensure that any problems are detected before they begin to affect your family member's mental health and quality of life. If the tests reveal that your relative is suffering from presbycusis, they may be provided with a hearing aid. Hearing aids are amplification devices that modify and enhance sounds as they enter the ear canal.

Encourage them to exercise

One of the best things you can do to improve your relative's overall wellbeing is to encourage them to establish a regular exercise routine. As the body ages, it becomes more susceptible to certain types of health problems, such as arthritis, cancer and high blood pressure. Regular exercise can help a person to reduce their chances of developing these conditions. Even in cases where they already have health problems, exercise can be used to alleviate their symptoms; activities such as strength training and yoga, for example, can ease the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

Exercise may also enhance your relative's mental well-being if they participate in group exercise activities (such as an aerobics class). Socialising on a regular basis can help to fend off the feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety that many people experience as they enter their twilight years.