“Wait, let me help you with that!”
“Don’t over-exert yourself!”
“You just sit down and rest; I’ll take care of that.”
How many times have we made remarks along the lines of these to older adults, with only the best of intentions in mind? We want to do whatever possible to be able to help our aging loved ones, to keep them safe and to look after them in the same way they took care of us when we were younger. However, there is a concealed risk in trying to do too much for seniors and depriving them of the chance to do as much as possible independently – the risk of negatively impacting a senior’s self-esteem and sense of purpose and meaning in life.
Take, for example, an elderly gentleman who devoted his entire life providing for his family, and now has moved into the initial phase of dementia. Seeing that he has continually self-identified as a provider, becoming reliant on another person to provide for him can be very difficult and even feel demeaning. It’s essential to help him hold onto the feeling of being needed by others. Try these tips from Live Well at Home by Eskaton to help:
- Seek help. Being provided with the opportunity to share insight and wisdom is a wonderful boost to an older adult’s self-esteem, and there is definitely a lot we can learn from seniors. Come up with little ways through the day to ask for the senior’s guidance on things such as how to make a perfect batch of biscuits, how to fix the draft coming in underneath the back door, how to comfort a cranky toddler, etc.
- Find hands-on support. As in-home caregivers, it’s our responsibility to help older adults with assorted needs, but we also realize the value of allowing seniors responsibilities too. It doesn’t need to be a monumental task to maintain the feeling of being needed. Pay attention to the senior’s cognitive and physical restrictions, and ask for his/her help appropriately. For example, an individual who is in a wheelchair can sit at the table and help with baking and cooking related tasks, polish tableware, or sort tools in a toolbox.
- Vocally demonstrate your respect. Although you might assume the person understands how you feel, it’s a wonderful feeling to be told how much we mean to someone else. Take time to state specific ways the older individual has assisted you in some way and how much you value that help, from learning to drive a car, to parenting techniques, to the ability to draw or paint or carve wood. Be honest in your compliments, and share them frequently, from your heart.
A trained in-home caregiver, such as those at Live Well at Home, is adept in sustaining the delicate balance between providing care for an older adult and boosting a senior’s self-esteem and sense of meaning. Contact us to learn more about our home care in Folsom, or to request a complimentary in-home evaluation for a senior loved one. View our full service area here.