It can be difficult when a parent, caregiver, or older relative has spent his/her whole life looking after you. . . and suddenly the roles are reversed! Whether you’ve reached the age where you’ve become the caretaker, or a life situation has shifted you into a different role, there is a new dynamic—and a delicate balance of give and take—that must be worked out.
One of the most important things you can do is allow the people in your life as much ownership of their journeys as possible. Here are a few ways to help elderly loved ones stay independent.
1. Communicate Often
If you’ve come to the point where you need to care for an elderly loved one, you may find yourself making a lot of decisions on his/her behalf. This may lead that person to feel as if they can’t make choices for themselves anymore. It’s important to discuss every decision you need to make with them before you make it.
Even if you find you have no choice but to go against that person’s wishes, it’s essential that he/she stays involved and you communicate with each other often. This can avoid either of you feeling resentful about the situation.
2. Create Home Adaptations
Adapting your elderly loved one’s home could allow him/her to regain some independence. For example, bathroom railings can help aging relatives use the bathroom privately and stairlifts can help ensure they get safely to bed at night. You can even purchase cooking utensils with adapted handles for people who find it difficult to grip because of arthritis.
Home adaptations aren’t just a great way to encourage independence in elderly relatives, but these modifications can also give caretakers the peace of mind. As you explore different options, it’s worth looking into government resources and/or funding to see how you can supplement and better support your loved one (and yourself) in your journey..
3. Stay Active
If your loved one wants to get out and stay active, there are many things he/she can do (and many ways you can help). There are many low-impact activities, such as walking, joining a beginners workout class, or something social, like having lunch with friends. If you find it difficult to get your loved one(s) out regularly, it can help to look for care for seniors in a local home which may offer activities with other people of similar age and interest.
A care home—or even just events put on by that space—creates an ideal situation for taking care of your loved one’s needs while surrounding him/her with people want to be active, too.
4. Respect Each Other
You may not always agree on the best course of action, but you’ll need to learn to respect each other. An elderly loved one has earned respect, and for them, knowing that they are still respected will empower them to look to the future and be independent where they can.
While there are many things that you, as the caretaker, will have to take over, when you both focus on respect, responsibility, humility, and acceptance, you and your loved one can move through this new season of life with positivity and hope.
For other tips about taking care of older loved ones, read this post.