Senior Caregiver Tips – From a Seniors Perspective
It’s all too easy to look at your senior loved one through your own eyes and have things colored by your own experiences and preferences. It’s natural to think of their problems, as well as the possible solutions, from the standpoint of what would work for you, or what you think they would want. You may even prioritize a doctors’ recommendation on what would lengthen their life, but do so without considering what the actual quality of the lengthened life might be. However, it is important to remember that as a person ages, they usually see things differently than they did in the past and they often have different emotional needs.
It’s also important to remember that it’s not your own life that is in its final season. Helping an elderly loved one make the very best of their life is to listen closely to what they really want and to listen to how they actually see things. Whether you are providing all the care for your family member, or sharing the load with professional caregivers, here are senior caregiver tips, from a seniors’ perspective, for you to consider.
Senior Caregiver Tips
Senior Problem #1: It’s frustrating to have the slightest details of life (going to the bathroom, eating, or moving from the bed to a chair) revolve around someone else’s schedule. No one wants to be an imposition, but to depend on someone who has other obligations constantly calling them away or preventing them from showing up when needed, can be tiresome, depressing, and even painful.
Senior Caregiver Tips: Be upfront about when you are dependably available and how much care you can and cannot give. Be honest with yourself as well and accept what level of care your loved one truly needs and on what schedule they need it. Consider other sources to help you find a solution if you can’t provide all the care that is reasonably required.
Senior Problem #2: Accepting physical or mental inabilities and related losses, plus facing the inescapable end of life, are really hard things for most people. But to also be humiliated or treated like a child–especially by one’s own children– can fuel anger and resentment. It can ruin what could be the last good times together.
Senior Caregiver Tips: You may feel like the parent/child roles have reversed, but you don’t have to act or talk like that’s the case. Everything goes more smoothly with mutual respect. The best way to receive respect is to give it. Choose your battles, but be tactfully persuasive if one is unavoidable. You may have to insist on disposable underwear if you can’t get your loved one to the bathroom fast enough. On the other hand, you don’t have to decree a healthy diet if your senior loved one has been diagnosed as terminal. Or you don’t have to insist they watch TV if they’d rather just stare out the window. If you must insist on something, kindly point out the benefits for everyone involved in order to help your relative understand any change. Keep the focus on making every day as enjoyable as possible and be sensitive to what might bring pleasure to them. Ask questions about why they have certain preferences. Allow them to control as many things as you safely can. Insist on as little as possible.
Senior Problem #3: Not being able to do basic things for yourself is bad enough, but feeling like no one listens or understands just adds to the frustration. Having requests ignored, receiving too many confusing instructions, or being forced into things can make life more miserable.
Senior Caregiver Tips: As caregiver, your job may be to help with your loved one’s physical needs, but you can’t be effective if you aren’t skilled at clear communication. You also can’t be effective if you carry with you too much emotional family history to dispassionately listen. Even if you feel you can handle the daily caregiving, you may need a non-family member to come in for a couple of hours now and then just to bring a fresh perspective to the household. Many home care organizations provide temporary or respite care options. Doing this can help you see what you may be missing. It can also help clear up misunderstandings and find solutions to problems.
Loving someone means doing what’s best for the other person in all areas of their life. It also means allowing the other person to be who they are– at any age and in any condition. Home and Hearth Caregivers are skilled at empathetic listening and balancing the needs of the entire family. Our caregivers are patient and courteous and they very often receive willing cooperation from those under their care in ways that can elude family members.
Having been down this road many times before, our caregivers bring with them a true wealth of experience and insight for you and your family to draw upon. Contact us for a free in home assessment.