Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Misconceptions of Quality of Life and Aging
Life Enrichment Coordinator
Meadowlark Retirement Village
Watch the WZZM13 Senior Wellness segment on this topic.
Quality of life is defined as the general well-being in terms of standard health, comfort, and happiness experienced by an individual or group.
Although that may seem like a cut and dry definition, “quality of life” has become a catch-all term for many people because of its difficulty to measure. Having a good quality of life is important for people of all ages but especially the elderly population. A good quality of life can be exemplified in many ways.
- Life satisfaction, even throughout fluctuations
- Feeling a sense of purpose
- Physical, mental, and psychological state
- Perspectives, values, cultures, personal expectations, and goals
- Ones level of acceptance of their condition
- The quality of relationships with others; social well-being
Everyone’s quality of life is different.
Too often we get caught up on the fact that our loved one is not getting out as much as they used to or they are not attending activities or being as social as they once were. Although this could be a sign of something negative like depression, it could also be just another phase they are going through in their life. If someone has always loved reading or watching TV at home, there is no sense in trying to change that as they age. Encouraging someone to do the things that always brought joy to them in the past is one of the most important things about growing old. As a caregiver you need to ask if what you’re doing is for your convenience or for the Elders.
With the geriatric population on the rise, we need to make sure that people are not only living longer, but living healthier and happier.
Misconceptions are highly common about the elderly population and growing old in general. It is important to remember that growing old is a privilege not granted to everyone. However, just like everything, growing old comes with complications. That is no reason to lose hope or give up. Common misconceptions are what attribute to an elder having a decreased quality of life.
Misconception #1: People move to a retirement community to die.
People think that when they move into a retirement community they are making the decision to give up. Families often think that they are letting down their loved one when they move them into a community. However, families and Elders should be thinking the exact opposite. People come to a retirement community to thrive. With trained professionals on staff 24/7 there is a better chance of someone being close by in the case of an emergency. Being around many other people can also prevent isolation, depression, and loneliness.
Misconception #2: New diagnoses mean a worsened quality of life.
New diagnoses do not always mean the end. In fact, the earlier a diagnosis is given, the more time people have to get equipped to cope with the condition and in turn that gives them the opportunity to live a more meaningful and productive life. You can never get someone the care they need too early. Denying a diagnosis can only be detrimental to one’s health.
Misconception #3: Older people contribute little to society.
With age comes wisdom. Listening to the stories from an elder can be life changing. Some of the things they went through are unfathomable. If you take the time to lend a listening ear, your opinion might just change. I always tell people that working with the Elderly is a daily reminder of just how precious life is. Tomorrow is never promised and things can change in the blink of an eye. The things we so often take for granted are the things that mean the world to them.
Misconception #4: Mental and physical deterioration are inevitable.
Although there is a certain amount of loss and function that happens as one ages there are things that can be done to slow the process Keeping your mind and body active are key. We also need to understand that even with mental and physical deterioration, we all deserve the best quality of life possible.
Ways to increase quality of life with a loved one
- Reminiscing on old memories
- Lending a listening ear
- Give them your time
- Empathize with them
- Creating open communication with the care givers
- Validate their words, feelings, and beliefs
- Support them
Just as Dave Willis said, “Never be too busy for the people you love. Never allow pursuits or possessions to become bigger priorities than your relationships. Love is what gives meaning to live.” The quality of the time you spend with someone if far more important than the quantity.