Jun 30, 2018 by Larry Morgan
It’s no secret that feeling confident puts you in a better mood, as this positivity radiates outwards onto other aspects of your life and make your whole day brighter. It can even help others feel more confident in themselves, too!
Unfortunately, this confidence has a tendency to diminish with age, meaning your senior loved one may be feeling pretty low about themselves, even if they’re not outwardly showing it. Why might they feel this way?
From TV shows to beauty ads, whatever form of media you see or hear, aging is conveyed as inherently “bad.” It’s unattractive, undesirable, and it’s not uncommon for it to be linked to words like “senile” or “diseased.”
This negative stigma America and other countries have against aging are hurting people of all ages, especially seniors. They lived fulfilling lives in hopes of one day receiving the respect they once gave to their elders, only to be met with harsh expectations and demeaning messages. Women in their 20’s and 30’s who once begged to get older in their even younger years now become fearful of aging, and invest in any product that barely promises to remove a wrinkle or prevent hair from graying.
Aging is a beautiful, natural process that should be embraced. In fact, research shows that having a positive mindset on aging can promote both physical and mental wellbeing for seniors. This mindset can make them realize how worthy and capable they are as a person and rightful member of society, therefore increasing their independence, too.
Challenging these negative stereotypes our society has of older people may be challenging, but one by one, standing up for the cause can make spaces safer and more welcoming for seniors, and people can age in peace without being criticized for it.
Keeping this in mind, here are some ways to revamp your senior’s confidence in themselves, in hopes of improving their quality of life:
Nothing makes you feel more confident in yourself like being able to do things on your own.
Now, this may seem tricky at first, especially if you’re acting as caregiver for your senior, and/or if they have limitations due to any conditions they’re diagnosed with. However, this does not mean to give them total free reign of their actions and routine again – it merely means to support them in the ways they still can help themselves.
For example, if it’s in their budget, how about getting them a walk-in shower instead of having to help them bathe every time? Or, if they are still able to put their shoes on by themselves with a shoehorn, let them do it. Making activities of daily living easier and more manageable for them, and not babying them with every action, is a great way to increase their independence and get their confidence back up.
Or, instead of barking out orders at them, try posing your wishes into questions so that they feel more involved in the decision-making process. Give them a choice between two options for dessert instead of assuming what they’d want, or ask for input on what to watch on TV that night. Even if they are unable to give a definitive answer, they’ll still feel more involved, appreciated, and independent in their day-to-day lives.
Reach out to loved ones and encourage them to call, write, or visit your senior more. Help them arrange a lunch or cookout with some of their friends they haven’t seen in a while. You can even help them set up a Facebook account so they can message and video chat with friends and relatives across the world!
Feeling connected with and appreciated by loved ones is one of the best ways to reinforce confidence and improve self-esteem.
On top of the media’s negative messages, there could be a variety of reasons why your loved one doesn’t feel as confident as they used to. A chronic condition may leave them feeling burdensome or helpless, or perhaps the loss of their spouse is too much for them to handle.
Seek out a support group of other people like your loved one. For example, if they have type 2 diabetes and are feeling defeated, find a group of other people with the same condition at your local hospital. Talking to others who are in the same boat and sharing their own experiences may help your senior feel more comfortable and accepting of their condition, thus raising their self-esteem.
There are also grief counselors to help cope with loss, even if it’s the loss felt when the senior’s adult children “move out of the nest.” Psychological health can be impacted by any traumatic event, and getting the right support can make all of the difference.