How to Support a Loved One Who Is Suffering Without Taking Away Their Independence
In today’s fast-paced world where we jet around to check off the boxes of the personal and professional tasks we need to accomplish, it can be easy for us to get caught up in our lives and forget to check in on the people we love.
As our parents, grandparents, or elderly colleagues age, they can begin to face a host of issues from, the loss of mobility to the onset of Alzheimer's, that can transform their lives and upset the independence that they have enjoyed for so many years.
This article helps to highlight the challenges of the transition from independence to care, and it also offers some valuable ways that you can support your loved ones while also making them feel that they are still valuable, independent adults.
The Challenge of Independence When Aging
We want to be present and accessible and be there for the people we love throughout the years just like as in many cases they were there for us as we were growing up. When we step in to help, however, we might not be in the best mindset to help our loved ones cope.
From our perspective, we might be juggling work obligations and a family at home, so we might think that if we swoop in and “help” that we’ve done well to safeguard them. From their perspective, however, these limitations might prove frustrating.
If a medical condition has already limited your loved one’s ability to do what they enjoy, and then you place even more limitations to make them feel that they need to be supervised like a child, your loved one can end up feeling trapped, depressed, or withdrawn.
Tips for Caregivers
Initiating a care plan while also supporting your loved one’s independence can be done if you keep some easy-to-adopt tips in mind. These include:
Only Nose in When Necessary
Just like a “helicopter parent” hovers too closely over their child, it can be easy to become too involved in your loved one’s life out of concern for their wellbeing, particularly after an accident or medical episode occurs.
It is best to use your restraint, because by giving them space to thrive you are reinforcing to them that they are still independent adults. Plus, jumping in too soon can result in significant resistance from your loved one.
If staying away is too difficult for you, or if you live across the country and cannot easily pop in, one compromise is to enlist a neighbor who lives near to your loved one who could provide a friendly, occasional check-in.
Know Medical Needs
Becoming an active participant in your loved one’s health plan is also important because it will help you attain a baseline for their routine of care and any changes of condition that emerge.
This does not mean that you must take control of their needs. Let your loved one take the reins.
Remember, while it is important that your loved one feels capable of making their own medical decisions, it is essential that you are there to offer support and guidance when it comes to developing a plan for their future.
Accentuate the Positives
Regardless of age, no one likes to be told they can no longer do what they once loved, so another way that you can boost your loved one’s spirits as they begin to experience such limiting conditions is to be a bit of a cheerleader.
You can work to emphasize what they can do (rather than what they cannot) and perhaps introduce variations on once-enjoyed pastimes modified for their abilities. You can also work to position care positively and reinforce that by allowing caregivers into their lives, they are given the tools to maintain independence.
Take Advantage of Technology
Use technology to your loved one’s best advantage. Beyond cell phones as a means to stay in touch or reach out in an emergency, your loved one can use smartphone applications to manage prescription refills and set dosage reminders.
They can also use apps to set up a regular meal or food delivery to their door so that they can maintain a healthy diet from the comfort of their home. These little conveniences can make your loved ones feel that they are still in control of the everyday aspects of adult life.
Simple Support, Incredible Independence
Our loved ones value their independence, but they also treasure our support, which can become particularly valuable when faced with a difficult medical challenge. By incorporating these tips into your care plan for your loved one, you can safeguard their need for independence while also underscoring your commitment to being with them every step of the way.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Independence and free-will are tenants of adulthood. Therefore, it is understandable that all adults, even those in our aging community, do wish to still experience some level of it in the administration of their own lives; even when it may interfere in their well-being. At HDAL, we endeavor to meet all the personal needs of our residents, while extending to them the dignity of being freethinking and independent adults. A word of thanks is due to Christian Worstell for sharing this article with us. Christian is a health and lifestyle writer living in Raleigh, NC.
The Owners of Holistically Devoted Assisted Living Facility
Holistically Devoted Assisted Living Facility (HDAL) is the premier assisted living facility in Prince George's County, Maryland. At HDAL, we deliver holistic health care to our residents - by meeting all their personal needs while allowing them the dignity of being freethinking and independent adults; and we provide devoted service - by being ever-present as servants in the lives of our residents as we assist them with performing their activities of daily living.