Having get-togethers and family reunions are some of the occasions that Filipinos look forward to all throughout the year. Aside from karaoke contests, we get to meet new members of the family, get reacquainted with relatives who live far away, and indulge in the huge spread of food featuring secret family recipes passed down from generation to generation.
However, there’s also the fact that some older members of the family can feel left out, what with all the noise and hubbub from the younger set. For some families, it’s typical to see Lolo or Lola sitting quietly, with no one to talk to even at the rowdiest gatherings.
Loneliness Even In Company
While some may argue that seniors who live with their families are less lonely than those who live at an assisted care facility, this isn’t the case as our aging loved ones may experience loneliness or feel isolated even when surrounded by their relatives.
According to a research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, for elderly people, the time spent with their loved ones may not be as enjoyable as the time spent visiting a good friend or a neighbor. This is due to the fact that relationships with the family tend to be obligatory, while the relationship with a friend is a matter of choice.
Keeping Up With Trends
There’s also the fact that Lolo and Lola might feel left out when the people around them talk about work, technology, trends, or social media – things that they may not relate to. It can be baffling for seniors when everyone starts talking about the latest viral video or celebrity Instagram post, so they would rather retreat to their rooms and think about other things than try to decipher what everyone else is talking about.
We love our elders, and we would do anything to make them happy. So what can we do to make them feel involved and needed?
Tips to be Inclusive
Here are a few tips to get senior family members involved in get-togethers, as well as some activities that they may enjoy doing with younger relatives.
- For the next family reunion or gathering, ask Lolo or Lola for suggestions regarding the menu and activities. Seniors, like everyone else, like to feel that they are needed. According to a study conducted by Age UK, the lack of a useful role in a society can lead to loneliness. Our elders appreciate it when we value their opinion, so make them feel included during the preparations.
- Don’t force your elder family member to go to an event that he or she may not appreciate. Instead, have them do things that they enjoy. Do a bit of light digging to find out what Lolo liked to do in the past, and if he liked to watch movies for instance, then perhaps you can take him to watch a film of his choice. You can also hold a special screening of his favorite movie at home– don’t forget the popcorn!
- If your loved one is living in an assisted living facility, make it a point to visit regularly. You don’t have to bring the whole clan with you. Sometimes, a visit can be more enjoyable for your elder family member when it’s just the two of you. Instead of just staying in Lola’s room for the whole visit, you can arrange to have a picnic on the grounds of the community. Pack a picnic basket with her favorite foods, add a blanket, and prompt her to tell stories from her childhood.
With a bit of creativity and a little effort, you may find that Lolo and Lola will look forward to spending time with the family and may be happier for it. Get them involved in family gatherings, and enjoy the time that you spend together.