Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t have control over basic decisions in your life. Unfortunately, this is something many seniors struggle with as they get older. My grandmother was one of these individuals and it was hard for her to accept any dependency. When we first made the arrangement of me being her caregiver, we sat down and talked about both of our expectations, and she was adamant about maintaining her independence (as she should be). Below are some tips that I found helpful during that time.
Make Sure Their Environment Supports Independence
Mobility issues can sometimes make people dependent on others. If your parents or other senior loved ones have difficulties with mobility and will be living at home (aging in place), then making some home modifications may help them maintain their independence. Canes, walkers, and scooters may improve mobility, and if the home has stairs, there are many different options for stair lifts for the elderly.
In my situation, my grandmother slipped in the bathroom once, so bathroom safety became a big concern. After installing grab bars and non-slip mats, she was able to bathe independently, without slipping. If you create a safe environment where they can retain their mobility, you will help your loved one maintain their independence.
Let Them be Involved in Their Care
My grandmother didn’t want to go into an assisted living facility, and she wanted to make her own decisions about her care. I feel that unless your loved one is clearly not capable of making those decisions, then he or she should be able to do so. Grandma agreed to have a caregiver come in to help out when I couldn’t be with her, and we worked together to find someone she liked.
Help Them Feel Useful
Just because someone gets older, that doesn’t mean they can’t continue to be productive and enjoy life. One way to help them do this is to make them feel useful. When I first started caring for my grandmother, I took on too much, especially with meal preparation, until she reminded me that she had been cooking for a lot longer than I had and she was definitely capable of peeling potatoes or making a salad. Whether it is cooking, folding laundry, or even feeding the dog, I suggest finding ways to include your senior loved ones in activities to encourage their independence.
Encourage Social Interaction
Social isolation can become a problem for many seniors who choose to age in place. Assisted living centers provide opportunities for social interaction since there are other people around. But if your loved one is at home, you should encourage them to spend time with friends and family, get involved in community activities, or go to a day program at a neighborhood senior center. If they have their own activities that are separate from their time with you, they may feel more independent.
It can be difficult to deal with the challenges of getting older, and it just doesn’t seem right to take away people’s choices about their own lives. That’s why it’s so important to encourage your loved ones to remain engaged in their lives and make their own decisions so they can stay as independent as possible.
Natasha Woods is a firm believer in health and wellness for all ages. Having been a family caregiver for her grandmother, she knows what it’s like to go through family trials and tribulations. She is currently a blogger who wants to aid others in understanding the tips of healthy and safe aging that she has come across with her own personal experiences as well as through deep research on the topic.