When a loved one is struggling to carry out a task, our first instinct, with the best of intentions, is to step in and do it ourselves. But is this genuinely helping your loved one – or could it be hindering?
The reality is, there’s a fine line between ensuring an older adult’s well-being and depriving the individual of the self-worth and purpose which is paramount to his or her health and quality of life.
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 advice can help those caring for older adults more fully understand when to step up – and when to step back:
- Practice patience. Structure your day in order to permit enough time for the older adult to work through projects at a speed that’s most comfortable. When we’re rushed and harried, we are prone to move in and take control. A small amount of extra time tends to make a difference in improving the person’s self-confidence.
- Emphasize the positives. While it’s true that particular responsibilities may have become too difficult to handle independently, uncover work-around solutions that help the person remain involved in the task based on his / her various skills. For example, if loading clothes into and out of the washer and dryer is cumbersome, the senior could possibly be able to sort and fold clothing.
- Encourage feedback. Have an honest, open, heart-to-heart conversation along with your family member to clarify his / her expectations regarding your role in providing care support. Is the senior loved one troubled with giving up specific facets of everyday life? Exactly what are the most important needs? Companionship along with other emotional care? Physical needs with ambulation, bathing, and getting dressed? Maintaining the house and yard? Work together to create a strategy in order to meet these needs in a fashion that is acceptable to yourself as well as the senior.
It is also smart to explore the idea of enlisting the assistance of an expert in-home senior care provider, such as Grace Home Care. Quite often, family caregivers become overwhelmed with taking care of housework, meal preparation, running errands, transportation, and personal care needs, leaving not much time to just appreciate spending quality time with the older adult they love.
Grace Home Care, the Topeka dementia care leader, provides a full range of individualized services to address all of these needs and more, making sure senior loved ones in Topeka and the surrounding communities are safe and secure, while empowering them to remain as independent as possible. Contact us at 785-286-2273 to request a free of charge in-home assessment, and strike a healthy life balance – both for the senior you love, and yourself.