Five ways to improve quality of life for seniors
Posted by Liz Alderslade Feb 2021
Quality of life as we age has long been a topic of discussion by Governments, experts, and aged care advocates, trying to unravel how to best accommodate the needs and wishes of Australia's older generation.
But it has taken them years to ask the question of the older people that matter, like you.
Defined as the standard of health, comfort and happiness that people experience, quality of life has a huge impact on the overall health of an older person.
It is a human right for all older people to have a good quality of life during their retirement and care years.
Quality of life can look different from person to person, but there are a number of factors that remain consistent and can impact an older person's quality of life.
A 2019 study from the Netherlands found that there are nine areas that are vital to quality of life for an older person, such as:
- Role and activity
- Health perception
- Attitude and adaptation
- Emotional comfort
- Home and neighbourhood
- Financial security
Many of these factors need to be covered in unison to have a good overall effect on a person's quality of life.
Here are five tips for how you can improve your quality of life no matter whether you are at home, receiving home care, or living in residential care:
1. Choice and control
You have the right to exercise choice, control and autonomy over everything in your life. Even if you eventually lose capacity to make major decisions, you should still be able to provide insight into what you want.
All older Australians should remain the principal decision maker in their life, whether they are at home, receiving home care, or in residential aged care.
Exercise that choice and make sure your family and friends close to you respect what you decide when it comes to your lifestyle and care.
2. A sense of purpose and usefulness
For most older people, a lot of their sense of self is tied into their profession. Once you retire from your occupation, you may feel like you have lost a huge part of yourself.
Wanting to feel useful and having a purpose is a part of human nature, otherwise, it can lead to physical and mental health issues.
You should try new hobbies and skills to give you a sense of belonging and purpose. Some activities to achieve this could include volunteering, consulting, gardening, leadership roles in local clubs, and so much more.
Alternatively, if you require help at home, having your normal day to day duties taken away may feel like a loss of independence. You should discuss with your provider if you still want to be involved in your day to day tasks as much as possible, so rather than have things done for you, you are actually being assisted by a carer.
3. Health, wellness, and illness prevention
Feeling healthy and fit is always ideal, however, old age tends to be when chronic illnesses begin to develop.
Health issues can have a serious impact on your quality of life as an older person, whether that be through pain or inconvenience, which is why living a healthy lifestyle and keeping up treatment of any illnesses you have can be vital to your wellbeing.
4. Social engagement
Seeing your family, friends, and attending social gatherings can reduce the likelihood of loneliness and isolation you might experience.
Social engagement is vital to the wellbeing of older Australians, so any social gatherings or initiatives you want to attend but are unable to, ask family, friends, or your aged care provider if they can accompany you or help to get you to and from events.
Make the effort to contact your family and friends regularly to keep connected. Even a phone call can make all the difference and brighten up your day. Setting a regular call time between you and someone you love can make the process easier.
5. Financial control and security
Having control over your own finances in your later years can be a huge indicator of autonomy and independence for an older person, which is why you should remain the primary decision maker on what you spend your money on.
Additionally, feeling financially secure can reduce the likelihood of developing stress or anxiety around money.
Talk with your family and friends or engage a financial advisor about how you are financially. Peace of mind can make all the difference.