How to Show Love to the Elderly
Love. That four-letter word that brings so much joy. A complex array of feelings and expressions, the idea of love has been a favoured theme for poets & philosophers for hundreds of years.
Each person experiences love in a different way. Dr Gary Chapman (who holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy) wrote ‘The 5 Love Languages’ which explores 5 ways we express and feel love through;
1. Words of affirmation
2. Quality time
3. Receiving gifts
4. Acts of service
5. Physical touch
This week we explore ways to show your (elderly) loved ones you love them, using the 5 languages of love.
1. Words of Affirmation
Having paved the way for the world we live in today, our older citizens are an essential part of our community. It is important we communicate our appreciation to our ageing loved ones.
Telling someone ‘I love you’, ‘I am proud of you’ or ‘I feel so fortunate to have you in my life’ are some examples of expressing love using words of affirmation.
A quick phone call is always appreciated, but saying ‘I Love You’ with a personalised card or photobook could prove even more meaningful. It can also act as a great reminder for ageing loved ones who may suffer from memory loss.
2. Quality Time
It is important to set-aside quality time with your loved ones to show them you love them. With a team of registered nurses, carers and allied health services on-hand at The Richardson to provide any level of support that may be required, family members can focus on spending quality time with their loved ones, creating special memories.
Treasure time with your loved ones by playing a board game or helping with a puzzle. Get the grandchildren involved and create meaningful conversations by asking your elderly loved one about their childhood or family history. Document your family tree as a record for generations to come.
3. Physical Touch*
Touch is the first of our senses to develop and has been proven essential for physical & mental development throughout our life. Research has shown that displays of affection such as a hug, kiss or even holding hands lowers cortisol levels (the stress-hormone) and can have a positive impact on one’s health and well-being.
Older people often appreciate a gentle display of affection from a loved one. A hug, gentle back rub, touch on the arm or holding hands are all demonstrations of physical tenderness to show someone you care.
Research has shown that eye contact also lowers cortisol levels, so during periods of physical distancing it’s especially important to book in regular face time with a loved one.
4. Receiving Gifts
Dr Chapman notes that some people feel loved by receiving gifts and equally show love by giving gifts. This display of love does not necessarily signify materialism, but rather thoughtfulness.
Regardless of cost or size, giving a gift as a gesture of love can reveal the effort one is willing to make.
Gifts don’t have to be costly, find out your loved ones favourite chocolate and try your hand at making a special treat to hand-deliver or discover their favoured author and visit your local second hand book store. Alternatively, buy a new one online and have it delivered straight to their door.
Remember – it’s the thought that counts.
5. Acts of Service
“Actions speak louder than words” and for those who perceive love in this way, it is the act of “doing” or “serving” that fulfills the expression of love.
At The Richardson, we celebrate residents independence and encourage involvement through various tasks. Some of our residents enjoy the act of helping staff to set tables, fold laundry or even serve tea to fellow residents.
Volunteer at a local community group and enjoy the feeling of love that comes from helping others.
It can be helpful to know your love languages and that of your loved ones. Take the 5 languages of love quiz to find out what your language of love might be.
*In current times physical touch is discouraged to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Ensure good hand hygiene and stay away from others if you are displaying any symptoms or come in contact with a suspected or confirmed case.
If you require support or wish to speak to someone about your situation or that of a loved one, please don’t hesitate to contact us on (08) 9381 2800.