Helping Seniors With Time Management Stress

Helping Seniors With Time Management Stress

Trying to plan an outing recently with my mother made me realize an area in which my life approach widely differs from that of my senior parent. When I asked her about going out to lunch, I was met with a litany of all the things crowding her calendar. She said, “I need to concentrate on my appointment with the cardiologist.” This appointment was three weeks off. She then again read her to-do list that was obviously causing her considerable stress. After a similar conversation with my mother-in-law, I understood this state of feeling overwhelmed was not unique to my mother. Her long list of “chores” was also preventing her from putting any enjoyable activities on the calendar.
The standard time-management techniques we’ve used in our work lives — prioritizing tasks into categories on a spectrum of “least critical” through “urgent” may work in the context of a defined work day or project, but not very applicable to an older adult without those parameters. But some studies have shown that applying some structure to free time may be very beneficial to retirees or seniors. One researcher found this created much more enjoyment of retirement when subjects saw they had the freedom to have “free” time if they chose.

Feeling Overwhelmed and Stressed
One big contributor to seniors feeling overwhelmed by tasks may be that they are experiencing their physical limitations and worried that moving slower will prohibit them from completing the things they need done. My mother has mentioned lately “I’m not getting around as well as I used to.” Focusing on perceived failing health and mobility seems to have impacted her belief in her capabilities.

As family members or caregivers, how might we help our loved ones feel more in control of their lists of tasks and lack of time?

  • Offer help – Don’t just assume an offer to take the tasks off their hands will be helpful. That removes any sense of control. Instead, ask how you might help? Are there items on the list they would like you to do?
  • Try to prioritize – Getting prescriptions refilled or scheduling doctor’s appointments are not urgent, but high on the list. Help them set up an auto-refill plan with the pharmacy and ask medical providers to send reminder cards.
  • Physically look at a calendar together – The visual cue of marking things on a calendar or even counting off days until an event may help reduce feelings of stress.

Just realizing that you understand a senior’s difficulty with time management stress may help them relax a bit.

SeniorLiving.Net is a free service for families to use that are looking for senior care or senior living for a loved one. Call (877) 345-1706 to speak to your local Care Advisor about senior care providers in your local area.