When a senior loved one is finding it difficult to perform a job, our natural instinct, with the best of intentions, is to step in and take care of it ourselves. But is this genuinely supporting your loved one – or can it be hindering senior independence?
The stark reality is, there is a fine line between making sure of an older adult’s well-being and depriving the senior of the self-worth and purpose that is vital to our health.
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 mom: “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 can help family caregivers more fully understand the best time to step up – and when to step back:
- Exercise patience. Arrange the day to permit enough time for the senior loved one to work through projects at a pace which is most comfortable. When we are hurried and harried, we are very likely to jump in and take over. A little additional time can certainly make a difference in increasing the person’s confidence level.
- Identify the positives. While it’s correct that particular tasks may have grown to be too tough to handle independently, find work-around solutions that make certain the person can continue to be involved in the task based on his or her individual talents. For example, if loading clothes into and out of the washer and dryer is cumbersome, the individual could possibly still be able to sort and fold clothes.
- Welcome feedback. Have an honest, open, heart-to-heart conversation with your family member to clarify his / her expectations regarding your part in providing care support. Is the older adult having difficulties with yielding particular areas of day to day life? What are the most urgent needs? Companionship and other emotional care? Physical needs with ambulation, bathing, and getting dressed? Maintaining the house and yard? Come together to design a plan in order to meet these needs in a way that is agreeable to both yourself and the senior.
It is likewise a wise idea to explore the notion of enlisting assistance from a reliable in-home senior care provider, such as At-Home Care Company. Frequently, family caregivers become overloaded with taking care of housework, meal preparation, running errands, transportation, and personal care needs, leaving too little time to just appreciate spending quality time with the senior they love.
At-Home Care Company, the Story County senior care leaders, provides a complete range of personalized services to manage all of these needs and so much more, making sure loved ones throughout central Iowa are safe, while encouraging senior independence. Contact us at 515-292-2650 in Ames and at 515-963-4410 in Ankeny to request a complimentary in-home consultation, and strike a healthier life balance – both for the senior you love, and yourself.