When someone you love is struggling to manage a task or activity, naturally our first response it to help. Our motives are, of course, to make life easier for the person by removing the burden of something that is challenging for them. However, if we aren’t careful, we may find ourselves overstepping our boundaries and actually causing harm to the person’s sense of independence, confidence, and more. As a family caregiver, it’s important to know when to step in and provide support to promote senior safety, and when to step back to allow the person to accomplish things independently to ensure their self-worth and sense of purpose remain intact.
Clinical psychologist, healthcare consultant, and family therapist, Dr. Barry J. Jacobs, co-authored the book AARP Meditations for Caregivers, and shares from his own experience in providing care for his mother: “With all my best intentions and concerted energies, I mostly succeeded in curbing her independence and squelching her spirit. She didn’t see me as her caring son so much as the overbearing usurper of roles she cherished.”
These tips from our Phoenix in-home care team will help you better understand how and when to offer assistance vs. taking over:
- Be patient. Schedule your day in such a way that there is plenty of time available for the senior to work through tasks and activities at a pace that is most comfortable. When we feel rushed and short on time, it’s more likely we’ll feel the need to step in and just do it ourselves. A little extra time can make a world of difference in boosting the senior’s level of self-confidence.
- Focus on strengths. Some tasks and activities may truly be too difficult for him/her to manage independently. In these instances, come up with work-around solutions so that the senior can do as much as possible to emphasize their particular strengths. For instance, if getting laundry into and out of the washer and dryer is no longer possible, the person may still be able to fold and sort clothes.
- Keep an open line of communication. Let the senior know that you are open to discussing any concerns they have regarding your role as their family caregiver. Is the person struggling with giving up certain aspects of daily life? What are their most pressing needs? Physical needs, such as with walking, taking showers, and getting dressed? Loneliness and isolation? Maintaining the garden and yard? Work together to determine how to best meet these needs in a way that works for both of you.
One great solution is partnering with a professional in-home care provider, like Nightingale Homecare, the Phoenix in-home care experts, who are also equipped to provide nursing and therapy services at home. As a family caregiver, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the many responsibilities on your shoulders. We’re here to help promote both safety and independence for a senior you love, while helping you retain a healthy life balance yourself.
Contact us any time at (602) 504-1555 for more tips and resources that will help your loved one stay safe while feeling empowered to retain the freedom and independence that are so important. We will be happy to schedule a free in-home consultation to develop a customized plan of care that addresses both their medical and non-medical care needs, both now and in the future. See our Locations Served page to confirm that our services are available in your area.