Growing old is no picnic. Apart from all the aches and pains it brings, there are often various fears, and constant moments of stress and self-doubt. The ‘backwards journey’ from being a parent to being a child once more is neither easy for the person, nor for those around them.
While in India there is still a lot of family support to help one go through this phase, there is no harm in taking small efforts towards self-care with practical tips. If you are in this phase of your life, or are a child/caregiver to an elderly person, this article is for you.
These practical tips will help ease your life and make your days happier. They are focused on making positive, conscious changes in your day and will help you break your existing patterns.
Sleep and hydration: The MOST basic tip is also often the most ignored. Always ensure that one remains hydrated and well-rested. Age-related pains can often lead to disrupted sleep; and that can cause a variety of compounding effects. The same goes with drinking less water. ALWAYS ensure that you are hydrated and well-rested.
Tip: Cold water with crushed pudina and lemon acts as a refreshing substitute to plain water.
PING conversations: Ping conversations are ones where you are just “checking-in”. Always try to ensure 1-3 such conversation touches with your family and loved ones. Keep the conversations lively.
Fixation: The older we get, the more fixed we get in our ways. But it is vitally important for everyone to avoid a rut physically or psychologically. Depression, negativity and lethargy all stem from a closed mindset and being focused on a single issue. It affects not just the senior but the care givers around him or her too.
Tip: Divide your attention and ensure you take in content that is new and captures your interest. Watch at least one video about a new destination or a new recipe or new art from around the world. Engage in a conversation with different age groups and you will always learn something new. This keeps you mentally engaged and gives you new things to converse about.
10 new steps: Take 10 new steps every day in a new direction around your house or walk route. This will help your mind and body stay fresh and will keep you open to new experiences. It’s also a small start to ensure physical movement in the day. There’s a chance that these two minutes of activity could eventually grow to 20.
Journaling and sharing: Writing down your thoughts is extremely cathartic. It helps crystallise your thoughts and give vent to your emotions. Also, it is an innate human need to pass along your experiences; do not deny yourself this. Share yourself and your thoughts from a positive perspective.
Tip: Do what you LOVE. If you love to cook, do it for free for the needy, if you can. If you love gardening, start a garden on the building roof. It is important to have purpose.
Automate subscriptions and budgets: Automate all medicines and regular supplies. Never underestimate the amount of stress caused by petty annoyances. Save your time for what you want to do.
Different hands: Break your patterns and use your hands in different ways. For e.g., if you brush using your left, use your right! Use chopsticks or eat with your hands if you have never done that before. This forces your brain to create different neural paths and causes you to appreciate the coordination of your movements and body.
Inculcate these tips in your daily routine to add more happiness to your life. It is never easy to break a rut, especially later in your life—but it is not impossible either. Start making a change, one step at a time, every day.