Laetitia Daufenbach, senior vice president, head of strategic planning and projects at Sodexo and a Global Ageing Network board member, shared her new year’s inspiration in one simple acronym: P-R-E-V-E-N-T-I-O-N. Her reflection inspires all to take control of our destiny and inspires us to age well and extend our own life expectancies.
As I reflect on my family, I realize that I was lucky to get to know my great-grandmother and my grandmother, and I remember how proud we were to take pictures of the 4 generations of women in my family. Such a unique gift for a little girl.
I recently lost my Grandma who had become very dependent physically and mentally and I wondered if there was anything I could have done over the last 20 years to help her age slower or to help her more? I came up with some ideas of prevention actions that we can foster for ourselves or for our loved ones, using the word PREVENTION as an acronym:
- P for physical fitness: Encourage physical activity with older parents and family members. It can be as simple as taking a walk around the block, going to the gym, or playing a game.
- R for refusal to replace: Assist but don’t do things on their behalf to save time. Teach them how to use the computer and be patient as they navigate new challenges.
- E for environmental safety: We talk everyday about occupational safety and safety at work. We need to pay attention to safety at home and assess the place and help with adaptations as needed. It only takes one incident to take your loved one to the next stage of ageing.
- V for volunteering: This provides a sense of purpose among an older population and encourages them to interact with other people as well as give back to their community.
- E for entertainment: Isn’t laughing the best medicine? Learn what is on their bucket list and how we can fulfill it.
- N for nutrition: Too many seniors (especially men) are nutritionally vulnerable (up to food insecure). Some diets are better than others and some food markets have better products. Learn what diets and markets are best for your family and share healthy recipes. Better yet, prepare the meal with them!
- T for talents: Our seniors are “wise” for a reason and have many talents. Learn from them and encourage them to continue to hone their skills.
- I for interactions: Try to visit as frequently as you can and help make and maintain connections around your elders to avoid feelings of social isolation.
- O for onboarding into ageing: Proactively getting educated on good and bad habits relating to ageing healthy and symptoms of diseases as early as possible. Work with your family member in preventing and managing situations that may have a negative impact in the future.
- N for “neuron gym”: Encourage cognitive stimulation, (e.g. memory games, stories, etc.) to consistently engage the brain.
In conclusion, PREVENTION is key though often neglected.
Here are 3 resolutions for the New Year for the Global Ageing Network:
- Let’s spend more time helping our loved ones invest in prevention actions (vs. offering to be there “if you have a problem”, being there when an incident happens, when a disease has been detected, or a situation is worsening).
- Propose to do things together that your loved one would not do alone.
- Encourage multi-generational interactions. Think about how your kids keep you active and young, think about the power of grandchildren to get grandparents to do things that their adult children can’t get them to do.
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