When a senior loved one is finding it difficult to accomplish an activity, our first instinct, with all the very best of intentions, is usually to step in and do it ourselves. But is this really supporting a senior loved one – or could it be hindering?
The stark reality is, there is a fine line between ensuring a senior citizen’s safety and depriving the individual of the self-worth and purpose that’s extremely important to our health and wellbeing.
Dr. Barry J. Jacobs, clinical psychologist, family therapist, and healthcare consultant who co-authored the book AARP Meditations for Caregivers, shares from his own experience in taking care of his mother: “With all my best intentions and concerted energies, I mostly succeeded in curbing her independence and squelching her spirit. She didn’t see me as her caring son so much as the overbearing usurper of roles she cherished.”
The following advice will help family caregivers more fully recognize when to step in – and when you need to step back:
- Exercise patience. Arrange the day to allow sufficient time for the older adult to work through projects at a speed which can be most comfortable. When we are rushed and harried, we are more likely to move in and take over. Just a little additional time tends to make a significant difference in increasing the person’s self-confidence.
- Accentuate the positives. While it’s correct that particular activities may have become too difficult to take care of independently, uncover work-around solutions that help the person can remain involved in the task in accordance with his / her specific strengths. For instance, if loading clothes into and out of the washer and dryer is cumbersome, the person may nevertheless be capable of sorting and folding clothes.
- Encourage feedback. Have a sincere, open, heart-to-heart conversation with your family member to express his or her expectations concerning your role in providing care support. Is the senior loved one having difficulties with giving up particular areas of everyday life? What are the most pressing needs? Companionship along with other emotional care? Physical needs with ambulation, bathing, and getting dressed? Keeping up the home and yard? Come together to design a plan in order to satisfy these needs in a fashion that is agreeable to both yourself and also the senior.
It’s also a wise idea to explore the notion of enlisting help from a knowledgeable in-home senior care provider, such as Hearts at Home In-Home Care. Frequently, family caregivers become overloaded with taking care of housework, meal preparation, running errands, transportation, and personal care needs, leaving not much time to just take pleasure in spending quality time with the older adult they love.
Hearts at Home In-Home Care, providers of the in elder care Overland Park families trust, offers a full range of individualized services to manage all of these needs and many more, making certain that senior citizens in Overland Park and the surrounding communities are safe, while empowering them to remain as independent as possible. Contact us or give us a call at 913-440-4209 to request a free in-home assessment, and strike a healthy life balance – both for the senior you love, and yourself.