Support, guidance & advice for todays primary carers
The popular saying, “If you look good, you’ll feel good”, is true at any age. It’s never too late. Look for those age-defying secrets that will keep you stylish, happy and self-assured. Remember, feeling great isn’t just about your outward appearance. It’s about boosting your mood, improving your health and maybe even jump-starting your love life!
Putting on a new outfit may give you the pick-me-up you need. You’ll be fresh, clean and prettier in a matter of moments. But sometimes, just adding a more affordable accessory such as a colourful scarf, floppy-brimmed hat, or fashionable pashmina is all it takes. Putting away winter clothes and cleaning out your closet can give you a “new season” feel.
Each season, try to get rid of clothes that don’t fit and things you’ve been holding on to. Replace them with a couple of classic pieces that will help you look your best. When all is said and done, you’ll likely find you have more clothing choices than you think.
If getting dressed is becoming a challenge, consider clothing lines designed specifically for seniors. Many practical yet stylish choices are made from easy-care, stretchy fabrics with simpler openings and fewer buttons.
Love your hair
No matter what our age, we can often get stuck in the routine of having the same haircut. It can be thrilling to try a different style or new colour, and you could surprise yourself with how good you look! Before your next visit to the salon or barbershop, flip through your favourite magazines to find some styles that catch your eye. Compare the shape of your face and the age of the person whose hair you admire to determine if it will suit you. Of course, your stylist can recommend a cut that best suits your features and personality too.
Remember to be straightforward with your stylist. Say no if you’re not comfortable with his or her suggestions, but keep an open mind; it is a change, after all.
Men can also update their look with a beard or goatee. Just make sure to trim it regularly – wear the beard, not the other way around. Noticing a little more grey? Ask your barber about a hair colour made just for men. This will be specially formulated so it doesn’t cover all the grey, making it look more natural.
Our feet get a lot of use, so it’s important for both men and women to take care of them. This is especially true if you have dry, cracked skin or a foot fungus that needs to be treated. Because our hands and feet are the furthest from our hearts, circulation decreases as we age. Mani and pedis include a “mini-massage” for hands, wrists, feet and lower legs to promote circulation.
Making a mani or pedi part of your beauty routine will prevent hangnails, calluses and dead skin from building up, which make skin rough and tough. If you’re caring for someone with limited mobility, keep in mind that many professionals will make at-home visits for both hair and spa treatments.
Keep it clean
It’s important to maintain personal hygiene. Bathing can be enjoyable, refreshing and, at times, therapeutic. Those living at home can access many options to make bathing and showering easy and safer. These include things like non-slip bathmats, shower benches, flexible shower heads and bathtubs with doors. These will all make keeping clean a breeze.
Doing the laundry and ironing on a regular basis will keep you looking (and smelling) your best. If you’re the caregiver of a single senior man, keep in mind that many older men have never had to complete these tasks and may feel apprehensive. Take the time to show your loved one the ropes and establish a routine.
Don’t be afraid to ask if you need help. Take our word for it: most people (family, home caregivers, nurses) would prefer to help rather than have you skip personal hygiene altogether.
An extra note: taking good care of teeth or dentures is a must to ward off gum disease and bad breath. Remember, regular visits to the dentist are still essential in your later years.
Choosing a new fragrance is a simple way to feel refreshed. When looking for a new perfume or cologne, remember that most brands offer the scent in a variety of strengths. They come in moisturisers, aftershaves, shower gels and shampoos. Perfumes in an eau de toilette, a milder version of the same fragrance, are often less expensive. Try before you buy and look out for allergies and skin sensitivities.
When sampling your choices, always test them on your wrist to smell the full “bouquet”. This will help you decide if the scent mixes with your natural pheromones. And don’t be bullied by salespeople; even if your intention is to buy, tell them you’re just looking and always ask for samples if you can’t decide at the store.
Make-up your day
As we age, our beauty concerns change; lacklustre lips and thinning eyebrows are some common concerns. Your local drugstore beautician can help you find the right products for your skincare routine and introduce you to seasonal shades to keep you looking great. Staff at the cosmetics counters will often provide a free makeover when a customer is thinking about a new look.
Pick out a few items you’d like to try and have your makeup professionally applied. This way, you can get tips on application and sample a product before you decide to buy.
Need a lift?
There are now new alternatives to invasive cosmetic surgery. Most spas and dermatologists offer “non-surgical facelifts” that don’t require any recovery time and show immediate results. These services improve the skin’s appearance by smoothing wrinkles, eliminating sunspots and getting rid of jowls and crow’s feet. Consultations are recommended before deciding on the right options, and your doctor and aesthetician can give you further information. And don’t forget, a smile is a natural facelift!
Get back to the boudoir.
A little known beauty secret is to get intimate with your partner. It’s proven that enjoying intimate moments once or twice a week can actually fortify the immune system, reduce arthritis pain, improve circulation and balance hormone levels so skin glows and hair shines. Natural changes in anatomy as we age are nothing to be anxious about; they can provide an opportunity to be playful with toys, scented or flavoured lubricants and more comfortable positions, like the “hot hula.” Have your hubby lie down, straddle him on top and gently “hula” from side to side for a slow, controlled experience that doesn’t put too much strain on either partner.
Book a spa date.
The word “spa” is Latin for “health from water,” and ancient civilisations would frequent such places to unwind after army campaigns and to socialise.
The purpose of modern spas is still the same; these are sites of tranquility and rejuvenation, except that services have improved over the centuries to offer a variety of luxurious body wraps, facials and massages. Most spas provide a list of their services online or at reception and offer complimentary treats such as tea, coffee and snacks that add to the pampered feeling.
Read up on “spa etiquette” and what to expect ahead of time. Be sure to ask questions about when to arrive and what to bring when you book services. Depending on the treatment and the time you have, your spa experience could take a few hours. You might also be able to reserve a spa lunch or afternoon tea. Think about inviting a friend or booking a date with your daughter, and make it a blissful day.
Get in bloom
Surround yourself with pretty things. It was reported that Sir Elton John once spent an estimated £293,000 on fresh flower arrangements for his home. Why? “Because I like flowers,” he quipped. Common sense tells us that flowers make us happy. Whether as a gift or a fresh-picked bouquet, science proves this is true. Having flowers around the house improves our emotional state and reduces stress.
Visit local farmer’s markets for in-season bouquets, or take the clippers out to your garden and arrange a creative bouquet for yourself or a friend.
Gardening is a great way to spend time outside, get a little exercise, and get your hands dirty. Watching your garden bloom all summer will inspire a sense of pride and brighten up your yard. Tea parties with neighbours can be fun and fragrant. Just make sure you’re properly covered up to avoid sunburn when you’re out there pulling weeds.
Those on a budget can still enjoy the spa. If you’re online, there are plenty of deals and coupons to be found – just ask a friend or tech-savvy grandchild for help. (I bet they’ll be willing to help if you offer to take them with you!) If all else fails, consider asking for a gift certificate as a birthday present.
For men only
Husbands, fathers, brothers, sons – grooming is much more popular with the younger crowd, but trying to encourage your man to part with that tired old sweater and those baggy pants may be a challenge. Think positive. Visit the drug store for shampoos, soaps and shaving necessities. Take your dad to a men’s store where the assistants are well-trained. This will make short work of putting together a couple of more modern outfits.
Don’t forget to make regular appointments with the barber and arrange for transportation if needed. Back in the day, women often encouraged their men to go for a haircut, took care of their washing and ironing and helped their husbands pick out clothes. So this might be all-new territory for a single man.
With a bit of effort, you’ll have a dapper, happier guy. He’ll be much more confident socialising and in better shape all around.
Looking good, feeling great!
Remember, being cheery and putting on a smile are your best accessories. Hold your head high and look around rather than staring at the ground. Greet passersby with a pleasant “hello” or a polite nod. You’ll feel more confident and energised in no time at all. The people you meet will be glad that you’ve brightened their day with your upbeat attitude.
Marguerite Weir is a freelance writer.
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