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Feeling Useful and Needed

From the very young to the very old, everyone wants to be useful and as long as we are able, we all want to make a difference.

A sense of purpose may not be a basic necessity like food and shelter – but doing what we can to help elderly people feel connected and useful is one of the most nurturing things we can do.

For a retired person who has completed raising a family and lost the value of a job and its contacts and income, mattering to others can come from family relationships, friendships, community service, or even a pet. When you care for an older adult, do your best to make them feel like you still need their help and that they’re not a burden.

Ask for help with tasks they can handle, such as folding laundry, organizing drawers, opening the mail, writing grocery or household to-do lists, clipping coupons, keeping you up to date on the news, helping prepare meals, or going with you to help shop for groceries or run other errands. You may be surprised how much a person perks up knowing that they are making real contributions to the household.

The need to love is our social need to relate to other people, to belong, to love and to be loved. Maybe a child in the family could use some tutoring or mentoring. Maybe another senior could use a daily phone call. Maybe a pet in a shelter could use rescuing. There are people and small creatures in need of love everywhere. Offering opportunities or setting up opportunities for a senior in your care to provide love to a pet, a child, or another person can give that sense of being needed and also fulfill the basic human instinct to love another.