“Here, let me help you with that.”
“Don’t overdo it now!”
“Maybe you should sit here and rest; I’ll take care of that.”
How many times have we made comments such of these to older adults, with the very best of intentions, of course? We want to do what we can to help our older loved ones, to keep them safe from harm and to care for them in the same way they cared for us when we were younger. And yet, there’s a hidden danger in trying to do too much for seniors and depriving them of the ability to do as much as possible for themselves – the risk of damaging their self-esteem and sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Take, for instance, a senior gentleman who spent his entire life providing for his family, and now has found himself in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Since he has always self-identified as a provider, relying on another to provide for him can be extremely difficult and even feel demeaning. It’s important to help him preserve the sense of being needed by others, and there are numerous ways to accomplish just that. Try these tips from the in-home caregiver experts at Caregivers by WholeCare:
- Ask for advice. Being given the opportunity to impart knowledge and wisdom is a great boost to a senior’s self-esteem, and there’s certainly a lot we can learn from older adults. Find small ways throughout the day to ask the senior’s opinion on how to make a perfect pan of lump-free gravy, how to stop the draft coming in under the windowsill, how to comfort a cranky toddler, etc.
- Seek hands-on help. As in-home caregivers, it’s our duty to help seniors with various needs, but we also realize the importance of allowing seniors the opportunity to perform helpful tasks as well. It doesn’t have to be a monumental task to impart a feeling of purpose. Pay attention to the older adult’s cognitive and physical limitations, and ask for their assistance accordingly. For example, someone who is wheelchair-bound can sit at the table and perform cooking and baking related tasks, polish silverware, or organize a toolbox.
- Verbalize your respect. While you may assume the older adult knows how you feel, it’s a wonderful feeling to be told how much we mean to one another. Take time to express specific ways the senior has helped you in some way and how much you appreciate that help, from learning to ride a bike or drive a car, to parenting skills, to the ability to paint or draw or carve wood. Be sincere in your compliments, and speak them often from your heart.
A trained in-home caregiver, such as those at Caregivers by WholeCare of Tennessee, is proficient in maintaining the delicate balance between providing care for seniors and enhancing their sense of purpose and meaning. Contact us to learn more about our home care services or to schedule a free in-home personalized assessment for your senior loved one.