Helping seniors stay more independent

BHC 070418 blog.jpgWhen we think about someone who is independent, we usually think of someone who can do anything on their own.

But when it comes to seniors, it’s those people with the greatest support systems who manage to keep their independence longer.

For a senior loved one, independence can mean a lot of different things. It may be tied to their ability to drive or to take care of their bills. It may just mean getting to stay in their own home, living their own life, rather than going into an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Whatever your senior considers to be their independence, it’s important to have respect and care for that aspect of their life.

It can be hard to resist being pushy, or even scolding an older loved one or parent when they aren’t carrying out their life according to plan – or doctor’s orders. But it's important to address issues from a place of love, so they know their needs, wants, and feelings are being respected even if they aren't taking on every task and responsibility alone.

  • Do ask where you can be of help, and tell your loved one you are happy to have a chance to give back to them.
  • Offer options rather than laying down the law. Giving seniors a choice shows them that their opinions are important and valuable. However, make sure all of the choices offered are viable options.
  • Approach questions from a place of concern, not anger. It’s easy to get upset when you are worried about a loved one’s health and safety, and that feeling of fear can often turn into a tone of aggression. Aggression will get you pushback, and pushback means no progress.
  • Find other resources that can help. Your elderly loved one, especially a parent, may be reluctant or embarrassed to ask for assistance from their family member or child. For example, they won't ask you for a ride to the doctor's office, but if the senior shuttle comes around, they may be all too happy to jump on board.
  • Find ways to make helping them appear to be helping you. You’re already going to the store, can you grab anything for them? Your child needs to learn responsibility, so can they mow the senior’s yard? (Chances are your senior will see through the ploy, but they might take you up on your offers just to humor you. Everybody gets to feel good!)

No matter what you do or manage or pay for, the biggest part of feeling independent is knowing that your ideas and opinions are valued. Even when families disagree, they can be respectful.

Help your senior retain their sense of independence and importance by simply showing them you care about their health and happiness.
If your loved one could use a little help remaining independent in their own home, Belvedere is here! Belvedere Home Care can provide services from running errands and light housekeeping to transportation to appointments and just being a companion who is willing to listen. For more information, call us at (518) 694-9400.