Encouraging Your Loved One’s Independence

Many fears aging adults experience relate to staying active and independent. According to a recent survey from the Institute for Tomorrow for the Home Instead Senior Care network, losing independence is a major concern for aging adults when they think of the future.

One of the challenges of being a caregiver is to find balance. Even with the best intentions to provide support, you may inadvertently overstep and curb your loved one’s independence. Any loss of physical, emotional, and/or social independence can trigger anger, fear, guilt, and depression in aging adults and impact overall health and wellbeing. As a caregiver, it’s especially important that you learn how to provide a level of care that is helpful and beneficial but also preserves your loved one’s independence as much as possible.

Finding the right amount support

Before you start helping, observe your loved one’s behavior over time to understand how much assistance they really require. Have a conversation with your loved one and with their physician about their health condition(s) and how their current health status is expected to change over time. Reassure them regularly that your goal is to help them remain as independent as possible so they can keep doing the activities they like to do safely.

Engage in interactive caregiving

Involving your loved one in their own care provides opportunities for them to stay active, social, and mentally stimulated.

  • Ask them to do some activities alongside you, such as writing a grocery list, planting flowers, or taking a walk.
  • Engage them in hobbies to maintain a sense of self.
  • Encourage them to socialize with family and friends by attending parties and gatherings.
  • Promote mental stimulation by engaging them with crossword puzzle and other thinking games.

Adopt technology solutions

Consider using technology to ensure your loved one’s safety while supporting their efforts to maintain their independence.

  • In-home safety: Use convenient monitoring and emergency alert systems to keep track of your loved one’s condition when you are not in the same place.
  • Traveling safety: Use a GPS device (e.g., wristband, watch, shoes, smart phone app, etc., so you can easily locate them if needed.
  • Fraud protection: Use financial services intended for aging adults, such as True Link Financials. True Link offers aging adults financial advisory and prepaid debit card services. Your loved ones will be able to make purchases while you monitor their accounts behind the scenes.

As a caregiver, it is important to recognize your boundaries and provide your loved ones with the opportunity to be independent and maintain a good quality of life for themselves. With patience, care, and encouragement, you can help your loved one age with dignity.

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