‘Self-care’ has become somewhat of a buzz-term in recent years, and for the Tik-Tok and
Instagram generation no explanation is needed. The internet is awash with hints, tricks and
tips for taking time for ourselves and looking after our physical, mental, emotional, and
spiritual health. However, the term ‘self-care’ was pretty much unheard of before 2016, and
almost exclusively online; so those who aren’t computer-savvy, or who don’t have access to
the world wide web, could be really missing out.
I’m talking mainly about some of the most vulnerable members of our society – a
section of our community who would benefit the most from a bit of elderly self-care. The older
generations have spent most of their lives taking care of other people; their families,
children, perhaps elderly parents or other relatives, and maybe an ailing spouse in their
Self-care for older people can be challenging, because they are used to putting the needs of
others first. They didn’t grow up in a world where it was important to take time out for
yourself, to look after your mental well-being and to put yourself first sometimes…some of
those things might even have been taboo. Men ‘manned up’, women kept their emotions in
check, everyone just pulled their socks up and got on with it.
But now things are different – thank goodness!
Here at Care In Kent we’re not suggesting senior citizens all start taking up yoga, eating kale
and booking massages (although please feel free to do so if you wish!), but we have put
together some self-care tips and activities that every one can follow, regardless of age or
Spending Time In Nature
It can be harder for older people to spend time outside – especially if they have mobility
problems or don’t have a garden. But people (of any age) who don’t spend enough time in
nature are much more likely to suffer health problems – both physical and mental.
The benefits of breathing in fresh air and feeling the sun on our skin can give us a mental
boost, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress hormones. For those who are able, a walk in
the woods or along a beach can be an excellent way to start a self-care routine. If walking
long distances isn’t an option, sitting on a bench in the garden or in a quiet park can give you
a similar boost and help you to stay connected to nature.
Start new Hobbies (Or Reconnect With Old Ones)
Think about the things you used to enjoy when you were younger. Perhaps you played golf,
painted, played an instrument or used to write. Hobbies can fall by the wayside for most of
us as we age and work and family commitments take over, but once you are older and have
more free time, what’s to stop you from enjoying those things again?
Set aside some time each week to rekindle your love for something you used to enjoy. If you
can’t think of anything, or your hobbies are no longer possible due to ill health or other
limitations, this could be the time to start something new. How about joining a book club,
taking up swimming or yoga (like I mentioned earlier!), or learning photography?
Finding something new that you love could be just the sort of self-care you need.
Start A Gratitude Journal
Before you worry that this sounds a bit new-agey, bear with me!
Yes, this is a fairly modern idea, but it’s one that has been proven to combat negative
thoughts and lead to greater happiness and health – and you can do it from your bed or
Older people who struggle with health or financial problems, loneliness or other worries can
often feel disheartened and low. Maintaining an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is a great way to feel
more positive about life – even in the most difficult of situations it’s possible to think of things
to be grateful for.
Keep a journal and write 5 things in it every day that you are grateful for. They don’t have to
be huge life-changing things – it can be things as simple as good weather, beautiful flowers
growing in the garden, or a phone call from a loved one.
You might feel a bit silly at first, but once this becomes a habit you’ll notice how it lifts your
mood – and if that’s not self-care, we don’t know what is!
Give Natural Remedies A Go!
Alternative remedies are something that a lot of older people might not have tried or have
dismissed as a load of hippy-dippy rubbish! But, the benefits of treating ailments naturally
have been well-documented by scientists, so they’re well worth a try!
Of course, it’s important to speak to a health practitioner before taking any type of
medication – natural or otherwise, particularly if you are already taking a prescribed
medication – so speak to your GP before adding any type of herb or supplement to your diet.
However you might be surprised to learn just how many common conditions can be treated
with natural remedies. For example, neck massage pillows instead of painkillers to treat
headaches, essential oils for anxiety, and ginger tea to lower blood pressure.
Schedule Time With Your Loved Ones
For older people, loneliness and isolation can be a huge problem, and can have a huge
impact one someone’s mental and emotional health.
If you’re able to, make plans with family and friends who live nearby. Invite them for tea, or
arrange to meet at a park or for a coffee. If your family lives further afield, schedule a weekly
phone call, or even a Skype or Zoom call if you are tech-savvy. One of the great things
about modern technology is that you can actually SEE loved ones who live anywhere in the
world, not just hear their voices!
The world today is stressful, so making time to refresh and rejuvenate ourselves is so
important – whatever our age. So why not encourage an older loved one to start a little elderly self-care and start enjoying the benefits today!