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Five Ways to Keep Older People Happy

Updated on January 24, 2017
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and counselor, is fascinated by the study of healthy aging and loves to share the information she finds.

What's In a Name?

One way to keep older people happy is to call them "older people" (older farmers, older teachers, etc.), as opposed to "seniors" or "elderly." This is the consensus of several professionals who deal with different aspects of aging. Jane Glen Haas, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, said at the age of 74 that she did not like the term "aging" because it made her feel that she was declining. She was satisfied with the label of "older writer."

Although "older people" may be a safe title, the sure way to make them happy would be to call them by their stated preference. It is all about our attitude toward them.

Happy to have lived long enough to become an older person!


This article suggests ways that younger people can help older people enjoy their later years. It takes into consideration that capable people in the 65+ age group can also use these suggestions with others in their age group to help promote happiness for all parties.

I used to love to sit and listen to the old people talk about yesterday.

— Curtis Mayfield

1. Let Them Talk

Older people love to share their wisdom, and it helps to keep them happy if someone will listen with interest, ask questions and declare their information useful. Some of their favorite conversation centers around:

  • the good ole' days when standards were higher and people were more reasonable;
  • life back then without all the modern conveniences that are available now;
  • the present state of affairs--social, political, spiritual;
  • their children, if they turned out well; or their disappointment if they didn't;
  • their grandchildren--how precocious they are and where they seem to be headed academically and professionally;
  • the struggles in which they fought and won.

Telling their stories helps them maintain a sense of well-being. It affirms that they have made some measure of contribution to their world. It gives them a chance to recall their good times. It even makes them feel better if the listener leaves with a promise to come back for more.

The picture of a loving embrace brings back happy memories.


Touch is a communication that transcends age and time.

— Comfort Keepers

2. Touch Them

It may surprise many to learn that some appointments older people make with the chiropractor, the beautician and the masseur are motivated by their desire to be touched.

Older individuals separated from spouses by death or divorce, from children and long-time friends by long distances may begin to feel lonely. Hugs, back rubs, holding hands and other touching expressions of affection become scarce.

However, affection is not the only reason that touch keeps them happy. Gentle rubbing of the muscles, as in a massage, releases oxytocin in the body. Oxytocin is a hormone which helps to relieve tension and also produces a comforting effect.

Make and keep older persons happy by embracing them, rubbing their hands and feet, stroking their backs, massaging their shoulders. Touch them gently and deliberately.

Old people are lonely without children, children are lonely without parents. Why not bring them together?

— Zhou Xun

3. Include Them

People never outgrow the need to feel that they belong. Older people in groups that are organized for them get some satisfaction from mingling and participation, but their sense of belonging is also boosted by involvement in communities which are not age-specific.

Better to invite them and allow them to decline than take it for granted that they are not interested in certain events. The invitation itself gives them some desired recognition.

  • It doesn't have to be their grandchildren performing for them to enjoy a children's concert.
  • Despite the fact that the party hostess is the only one they know, they may enjoy getting out to the Sunday brunch.
  • They may just be good company during the afternoon ride to the farmer's market.

When their presence is appreciated, they feel more comfortable to be themselves, to make suggestions, even to share humor.

As we grow older, we must discipline ourselves to continue expanding, broadening, learning, keeping out minds active and open.

— Clint Eastwood

Are there new activities you plan to try now that you are (or when you become) older?

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4. Challenge Them

Healthy-minded older people believe that they live on for a purpose, which perhaps may be to attempt something they neglected to do in their earlier years. They may also be motivated to try something they recently thought about. Individuals who talk with them may discover their hidden passion, and can help make them happy by gentle probes to think and act outside the aging box.

They appreciate challenges and opportunities to:

  • use their talents in religious and civic organizations as contributions to their communities;
  • set new personal records in walking, swimming, bowling and any other physical activity which helps to maintain their social and physical health;
  • begin or improve new artistic skills like painting, drawing, decorating, creating floral arrangements, woodwork;
  • begin or improve computer and Internet skills, gardening, auto-mechanics.

Expressing confidence in their abilities boosts their sense of significance. They realize that they still have much to offer, and without the youthful shyness, fears and doubts which they have already retired, they embrace the joy of new possibilities.

It is gracious to have old people full of vitality and endowed with wisdom in our society.

— Lailah Gifty Akita
Celebrate his presence
Celebrate his presence | Source

5. Celebrate Them

The older people get, the more regularly they attend funerals. The brevity of life begins to register on their minds, as does the importance of celebrating the life they still have. They welcome opportunities to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, new births and other new beginnings.

What about celebrating them? At a restaurant dinner (or it may happen at any at-home dinner) one individual can express appreciation on behalf of the group and raise their glasses for the benefit of enjoying the older person's presence.

Have a show-and-tell featuring their trophies which may be nothing more than photographs of special moments. Feed their sense of worth. Express gratitude for their example, for lessons they teach, for assistance they provide, for their favorite sayings which inspire others.

Celebrate them anytime, anywhere, for any reason. Make and keep them happy while they can enjoy their flowers.


Comfort Keepers, "The Power of Touch and What It Means for the Elderly." April 2014.

Graham, Judith, "'Elderly' No More," The New York Times. April 19, 2012.

© 2017 Dora Isaac Weithers


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    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 months ago from The Beautiful South

      Wonderful ideas Dora and I couldn't agree more. I guess most of us who are aging know just what you are talking about and it is easy to get lonely even when we do not live alone. If we have no one to reach out to us then I guess the next best thing is to be in a position to be talked to and touched by friends and family and well we might even have to be the one who touches, huh? Or the talker?

      When my mom was in different nursing homes I saw so many lonely people, breaks my heart still to think about it. It should never be. I mean why didn't they put all these lonely people in a room together at least of the daytime? Oh, and I think it was at Facebook I saw this place brought in young kittens for older people and it did such good, even for people who had before pretended to not want nothing to do with anything. So maybe touch doesn't even always have to be people.

      Again, sweet loving ideas! You are full of them and I am sure from the love in your heart.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Jacke, thanks for your input. I'm glad you mentioned pets. I intended to add pets as a way to keep them happy, but I didn't want to make the article too long. I may still find a way to include it. I appreciate all the sweet, kind things you say.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      With parents turning 70 and a grandmother in her late 80s, this is valuable. My parents still want to teach their skills to those who will learn but my grandmother has been glued to her recliner for years. I make my dad hug me; he's never been a hugger but I think he needs it more and more. Pedicures and Olive Garden get my grandma out of the house. I've tried many other things. My dear grandfather just appreciated a trip to the grocery store or discussion about his animals and garden but he left for a better place last year. You are so lovely in the photos, MsDora. Your beauty and godliness radiate.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Flourish, as grow older, so do those around us and we are blessed to have them lead the way. We learn how to fend for ourselves by watching them do it. Thanks for sharing your blessings and your challenges. Thanks also for your kind remarks.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Wonderful advice, MsDora. I know as I get older I will appreciate most of the things you suggest. very well written article.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 2 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Now that my mother-in-law is living with us, there are a lot of your tips I can put into practice. As always, you've given us some very practical things to use on a daily basis. Thank you, Dora!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 months ago from Olympia, WA

      That's a beautiful picture of you, my friend, and your suggestions are right on as always. Have a love-filled week, Dora!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Jodah, getting older seems okay when you know other good people who are in the same boat. Good to know you and thanks for your kindness.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, here's wishing you and your family lots of love, peace and good times together as you include your mother-in-law. Certainly, you will come up on your own with some other ways to make and keep her happy.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, thanks for the compliment, for your continual support, and for the love. Best to you also during this week.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 2 months ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      What a fabulous, simple, healthy article. You jogged my memory and reminded me of so many little things that can contribute in a positive way.You are very wise, MsDora. Well written.

    • jgshorebird profile image

      jgshorebird 2 months ago from Southeastern U.S.

      A hub I will return to now and again for reminders.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Patsybell, with all the different voices calling, we need reminders everyday. Glad to be yours on this topic. Thanks for sharing.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Jgshorebird, glad that you find the article useful. Thanks for your comment.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 months ago from southern USA

      Happy New Year, Ms. Dora!

      I'm off for the holiday today and thought I'd pop in to read a little of what I've missed since my husband had knee replacement surgery and other life issues have kept me away, and I see I've missed so much!

      You are still writing such helpful articles and sharing your wisdom with us all. I know as I am getting older, I sure appreciate all of these things you mention too.

      Thank you for being you, a lovely person in this world, who allows her light to so shine!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 2 months ago from England

      I totally agree with you MsDora, touching is such a fundamental part of being a human being. I am always hugging my partner and son, and would hate never to get hugs, I totally agree with you on all points here, great hub!

    • Kyriaki Chatzi profile image

      Kyriaki Chatzi 2 months ago

      As my parents get older (they are almost in their early 60s), I may need to heed your suggestions, Ms Dora. Thanks for sharing!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Faith Reaper, I miss you and I pray that you and your husband may experience God's favor in abundance toward his knee and all your other issues. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." You won't fall through! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your kind comment.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Nell, you're blessed having someone to touch and to touch you. Thanks for affirming the truth of the article.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Kyriaki, enjoy your parents while they're still so young and stand by them as they get older. Sure, these suggestions should be helpful to you. God bless you and them going forward!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      These are wonderful reminders of the human need to feel valuable, significant and loved. It's a win win situation when we give our time and attention to older people.

      One more way in which touch is gained is through hair care. I remember an older pair of sisters who were my customers when I was in beauty school. One told me with tears in her eyes it was the first time she'd been touched in a long time. Even brushing or combing someone's hair seems to lift their spirits and make them feel special.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Peg, thanks for helping to affirm the importance of touch for older people. I'm sure that you also felt happy treating that lady's hair. Look what joy we can add to people's lives when we understand their needs!

    • Sam Tumblin profile image

      Sam Tumblin 2 months ago from Eunice, La.

      Interesting post and useful information thanks for sharing.

    • SAQIB6608 profile image

      SAQIB 2 months ago from HYDERABAD PAKISTAN

      "As we grow older, we must discipline ourselves to continue expanding, broadening, learning, keeping out minds active and open." - Clint Eastwood

      Wonderful and Organised hub, Lessonful indeed. Everyone has to grow old so we must respect our elders as our time will also come.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Sam, glad you like the article. Everyone, at some time has to deal with someone who is growing older. It's an experience we all hope to share.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      SAQIB6608, that quote is a great mantra for all older people. Thanks for underscoring the issue of respect.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 2 months ago

      Your suggestions are helpful. My husband and I are older adults who love interacting with those older than we are. We always learn from them, and love their expressions. For example: When someone says, I could have or they could have... Our older friend always says, "Sure and the hound would have caught the rabbit, if he had not stopped to take a leak." He has other good ones that I can't write here, but he's a big source of fun to listen to.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 2 months ago from Great Yarmouth

      It's so important that we keep our older generation happy. When my Grandparents were alive, I used to love talking to them about their younger days. It always brought such happy memories back for them.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 2 months ago from New Delhi, India

      What a wonderful hub and so thoughtful of you to write this.

      It is so important to keep the older people happy . One should not forget the many sacrifices they have done and extra effort must be made to let them feel wanted and desired by the younger generation. Learning from their experiences is also very important.

      You have made some valuable points in this well written hub and my regards to you for this thoughtful gesture! Thank you!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Mactavers, it's wonderful that you and your husband have such fun interaction with your older friend. Thanks for your inspiring share.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Louise, thanks for your contribution to the topic. Great that you intentionally made your parent happy, and I know you still feel good about it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Chitrangada. Sure the older people deserve happiness especially because off all they've been through and done on behalf of others. As you mention, we learn from them meanwhile, and that's a bonus.

    • YourYouthNow profile image

      Sarahyouryouthnow 2 months ago from Texas

      What a beautiful article. I believe we all mean well but can get wrapped up in our own lives. My parents are reaching the point where I can apply these ideas. I know someone mentioned it but pets for sure. My dogs are my companions everyday when my family goes off to work and I sit working at my computer. I cant imagine not having them with me all day. I was lonely during the day which is when we got our first dog. Now I talk to him rather than myself. Kinda funny but when you work from home sometimes you just need that. Thanks again Sarah

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Sarah, pets for sure will keep older pet lovers happy. Perhaps I should write on "More Ways . . ." Happy that you are considering your parents' happiness. Also hoping to read your work soon.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 2 months ago from United States

      Your #1 really struck me, MsDora. It's why I loved spending time with my grandparents as a child, especially my grandfather, and loved working in the kitchen after the big family Sunday dinners, cleaning up. What a privilege it was listening to the old folks talk.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Jill, thanks for sharing. I bet you still enjoy the memories. Those tales from grandma and grandpa entertain and inspire for a lifetime.

    • Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

      Beth Eaglescliffe 2 months ago from UK

      What a wonderful hub; full of thoughtful insight. The world would be a better place if more people followed the advice you give.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Beth. The world sure would be a better place if we could keep the older folk happy.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I love the new picture of you, Dora! You are as young as ever! I like your suggestions in this article. Now that I am pushing 60, I feel that I am more and more a part of this "older" generation. My children are all adults, and our grandchildren live far away. I often find myself pining for company. If I want it, I have to seek for it. It is nice when someone extends an invitation to gather at their home or enjoy their children for a while.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Denise. I can relate to pining for company. While we are still able, we might extend the invitation sometimes. I usually enjoy being with my older girlfriends, especially if we are of similar faith. We find reasons to be grateful for, and ways to enjoy our later years.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 2 months ago from South Africa

      MsDora, you look great!

      This is an excellent hub with many useful tips. I like the 'celebration-idea'.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Martie. Knowing that we may leave, or the older people may leave without notice, it feels good to celebrate them in our lives whenever we have the opportunity.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've shared some great advice, as always, MsDora. Thank you once again for sharing it. I love your photo!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks Alicia. Belonging to this older-people group makes me look out for myself when I look out for them. You encourage me.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 months ago from Northern California, USA

      This is very helpful information. I totally agree with you about the healing facts of touching. I remember going to a physical therapist for my back. The therapist had a unique style that involved extensive touching and holding (all appropriate, of course). I left that office feeling wonderfully refreshed.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Marlene. The healing power of touch seems to empower individuals in every age group. Glad you can attest to that. I appreciate your input.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 months ago from Central Florida

      Dora, as an "older" person (how and when did that happen?), I was very interested in reading this article. I love everything you have to say. These can actually work for anyone at any age. We all have the need to feel appreciated and we all experience loss (children moving away, divorce, death, etc.) at various stages in life. The key is to celebrate each other every day.

      By the way, I love your hair!

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 8 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Shauna. Getting older just happens whether or not we're ready. I've gotten so accustomed now, only the photographs remind me that my hair was not always gray. Thanks for the compliment.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 4 weeks ago

      I try to spend as much time as I can with an older neighbor, aunt and friend. Even if it's a half an hour it's a half an hour well spent. I feel they have given me so much love over the years it's time to share more love back. Thank you for writing and sharing. I enjoy your hubs so much.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Dream, I commend you for including in your schedule that thirty minutes of quality time with your older loved ones. You add joy to heir lives and yours.

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      Natalie Frank 11 days ago

      These are all great suggestions! And none are difficult to put into place if we just pay attention to what those around us need and would value. Terrific Hub. Looking forward to reading more of your articles.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 11 days ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Natalie. I agree that it is easy for these suggestions to become a habit. Everyone can practice even one.

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