What kind of care are senior citizens missing? – Press Enterprise | #hospice | #elderly | #seniors
When people think of growing old, they assume they’re going to decline physically and mentally.
That is true, Temecula resident Barbara Matthews said, but people can also become more spiritual as they age, improving their quality of life that way.
A veteran of 20 years in the health care industry, Matthews has worked at an assisted living facility, managed hospice and home health agencies, supervised caregivers and volunteered with Alzheimer’s patients.
She’s found that spiritual care doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
“Yet scientific study proves that various spiritual practices provide both physical benefits and lead to better quality of life,” she said. “For example, meditation reduces physical pain and a sense of purpose leads to life satisfaction.”
Matthews recently gave a 20-minute talk, “Care that’s missing,” on her expertise during a virtual Tedx event through Mt. San Jacinto College. She has written a book on the topic: “Old Age: The Paradox of Physical Decline and Spiritual Greatness.”
She hosted a talk show about senior care on a Redlands radio station.
She says health plans need more spiritual care.
“I want the industry to look at it, test it, and use it.”
Matthews, 69, has lived in Temecula 31 years and says southwest Riverside County is a good place for seniors.
The cost of living is cheaper than San Diego, Orange or Los Angeles counties, where she moved from.
There are plenty of stimulating things to do in the area, such as visiting local wineries and taking classes from local colleges.
“Lifelong learning is extremely important,” she said.
Volunteering is another way for seniors to stay active and there are many opportunities locally, Matthews said.
Many retirees previously found their self-worth in a job or raising kids. Now the job and the kids are gone.
“You need to replace those,” she said. “Volunteering gives seniors purpose. You need that. It gets you out of bed.”
As for her volunteering, she serves on her local faith’s governing board and on the Interfaith Council of Murrieta and Temecula.
Previously she volunteered for the Women’s Network, an after-school mentoring program for girls; the Alzheimer’s Association chapter of Riverside County; and a diabetes group that helped patients managed their condition.
She mentioned that purpose also can be something as simple as helping somebody cook, such as tasting food or chopping things. She let her elderly mom do that for her when she visited.
Seniors can take up something creative such as poetry, music, singing or a craft, she said. Once again, something that lifts the spirit.
As for visiting a retirement living facility, where a senior might reside and of which there are plenty in southwest Riverside County, she suggests relying on the senses when visiting potential places: What do you see, hear, taste smell and touch? A big one for her is the sound of laughter. A place with plenty of that could be a good place to live out the rest of your life.
She views old age as a chance to better understand who you are and why are you in this world.
“Old age is a gift because it forces us to focus on the spiritual side of us,” she said.
Something all of us would benefit from — no matter our years.
Reach Carl Love at firstname.lastname@example.org