“Here, I can help you with that.”
“Don’t over-exert yourself!”
“I’ll handle that; you just sit and rest.”
How many times have we made statements just like these to older individuals, with only the best of intentions in mind? We want to do whatever we can to help our retired seniors, to ensure their safety and to look after them in the same way they took care of us when we were children. Nonetheless, there is a hidden hazard in trying to do too much for retired seniors and denying them the opportunity to do as much as they can for themselves – the danger of damaging senior self-assurance and sense of purpose in life.
Take, for instance, an older gentleman who devoted his whole life to taking care of his family, and just recently has progressed into the early stage of dementia. Given that he has continually self-identified as a provider, being reliant on another person to provide for him can be really tough and even feel demeaning. It is important to help him maintain the sense of being needed by others, and there are a number of tactics to accomplish just that. Try these guidelines from CareFor:
- Obtain help. Being granted the occasion to share insight and wisdom is a great boost to an older person’s self-esteem, and there’s undoubtedly a lot we can learn from older individuals. Find small ways throughout the day to ask the senior’s guidance on how to make a perfect apple pie, how to stop the draft coming in underneath the front door, how to soothe a cranky baby, etc.
- Bring in hands-on help. As in-home caregivers, it’s our responsibility to assist older individuals with a variety of needs, but we also understand the value of allowing seniors the chance to perform helpful responsibilities as well. Be aware of the senior’s cognitive and physical restrictions, and ask for his/her help accordingly. For example, a senior who is in a wheelchair can sit at the table and help with cooking and baking related tasks, polish silverware, or sort nuts and bolts in a toolbox.
- Vocally express your respect. While you may assume the person understands how you feel, it’s a fantastic feeling to be told how much we mean to someone else. Take time to point out particular ways the older individual has aided you in some way and how much you appreciate that help, from learning to ride a bike, to parenting techniques, to the ability to paint or draw or carve wood. Be honest in your compliments, and say them often, from your heart.
A skilled in-home caregiver, such as the caregivers at CareFor, is proficient in maintaining the sensitive balance between supplying care for seniors at home and increasing their sense of purpose and meaning. Contact us at (512) 338-4533 to learn more about our home care services from our experts in elder care in Austin, TX and the surrounding area, view our full service area, or to request a free in-home consultation for your senior loved one.