When a senior loved one is struggling to accomplish a task, our first instinct, with the very best of intentions, is generally to step in and handle it ourselves. But is this genuinely assisting your loved one – or could it be hindering?
The truth is, there is a fine line between ensuring an older adult’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 caring for 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 suggestions will help family caregivers more fully recognize when to step in – and when to step back:
- Practice patience. Plan the day to permit enough time for the senior loved one to work through projects at a speed which is most comfortable. When we are rushed and harried, we’re more prone to jump in and take control. A small amount of additional time will make a significant difference in maximizing the person’s self-esteem.
- Stress the positives. While it’s correct that specific responsibilities may have grown to be too challenging to take care of independently, find work-around options that help the individual continue being involved in the task based on his / her specific strengths. For instance, if loading clothes into and out of the washer and dryer is cumbersome, the individual might be able to sort and fold clothing.
- Encourage feedback. Have a truthful, open, heart-to-heart conversation with your family member to make clear his or her expectations regarding your role in providing care support. Is the senior having difficulties with giving up particular tasks of day to day life? Do you know the most urgent needs? Companionship as well as other emotional care? Physical assistance with ambulation, bathing, and getting dressed? Maintaining the home and yard? Work together to create a plan to meet these needs in a fashion that is agreeable to both yourself and the senior.
It’s also a wise idea to examine the concept of enlisting the assistance of a competent in-home senior care provider, such as Anthem Home Care. Oftentimes, family caregivers become stressed with taking care of housework, meal preparation, running errands, transportation, and personal care needs, leaving insufficient time to simply take pleasure in investing quality time with the senior they love.
Anthem Home Care, the senior care Rockport leaders, offers a full range of individualized services to manage all of these needs and much more, ensuring that older adults in Rockport and the surrounding communities are safe and secure, while empowering them to remain as independent as possible. Contact us at 361.643.2323 to ask about a free in-home consultation, and strike a healthier life balance – both for the senior you love, and yourself.