When a senior loved one is finding it difficult to manage a task, our first instinct, with all the very best of intentions, is generally to step in and take care of it ourselves. But is this truly supporting your loved one – or can it be hindering?
The truth is, there is a fine line between ensuring safety and depriving the senior of the self-worth and purpose which are important to our 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 with 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 can help family caregivers better recognize when to intervene – and when to step back:
- Practice patience. Structure the day to permit plenty of time for the senior to work through tasks at a speed which is most comfortable. When we’re rushed and harried, we’re very likely to move in and take control. A little extra time tends to make an impact in enhancing the person’s confidence level.
- Identify the positives. While it’s correct that specific responsibilities may have become too difficult to handle independently, discover work-around options that ensure the senior can continue to be involved in the task relating to the person’s individual strengths. For instance, if loading clothes into and out of the washer and dryer is difficult, the person may still be capable of sorting and folding clothing.
- Encourage input. Have a genuine, open, heart-to-heart discussion with your loved one to clarify his or her expectations about your role in providing care support. Is the senior troubled with relinquishing certain areas of everyday life? Do you know the most important needs? Companionship as well as other emotional care? Physical assistance with ambulation, bathing, and getting dressed? Maintaining the house and yard? Work together to create a strategy to satisfy these needs in a fashion that is agreeable to both yourself and the senior.
It is likewise smart to explore the concept of enlisting the aid of a professional in-home senior care provider, such as Live Free Home Health Care. Quite often, family caregivers become overloaded with taking care of housework, meal preparation, running errands, transportation, and personal care needs, leaving little time to just enjoy spending quality time with the senior they love.
Live Free Home Health Care, providers of the senior care Concord families trust, offers a complete range of customized services to address all of these needs and more, ensuring that aging parents in central New Hampshire are safe and secure, while empowering them to stay as independent as possible. Contact us at 603-217-0149 to ask about a free of charge in-home consultation, and strike a healthier life balance – both for the senior you love, and yourself.