Everyone wants to feel as though they can make their own decisions and choices. As we age, our bodies may have another idea, hampering our abilities to do things for ourselves.
Whether chronic illness, dementia, or pain is the cause of a loss of independence, or it’s family members with the best intentions, there are many reasons we may lose our independence as we age.
As a caregiver, it’s important to try and foster the need for your loved one’s independence whenever it is safely and reasonably possible to do so. There are many small, impactful ways that as caregivers, you’re able to encourage independence in your loved one.
Here are some tips to help encourage independence in your aging loved one.
1. Let them make choices and decisions within the scope of options you give to them. Things such as letting them choose what they would like to wear or what they would like to eat within a few good choices, can go a long way to helping them feel engaged and empowered.
2. Don’t jump in and help every time you perceive your loved one having difficulties with something. Giving them the opportunity to do something themselves and then having them ask you for help with it will go much more smoothly than if you assume the helpful position and come off as “overbearing.”
3. Encourage your loved one towards doing things they have strengths in and can still do. Steering your loved one towards things they can still do can make a big difference in their quality of life and give them some of their independence and confidence back.
4. Make safety modifications in the home. Sometimes a matter of independence can be as simple as needing extra physical help with tasks such as showering or using the bathroom, which grab rails and raised toilets can certainly help out with. Installing safety modifications can help your aging loved one stay in their home longer and keep them safer, which is a win-win.
5. Promote exercise and movement. Exercise and movement have multiple benefits that exceed beyond the physical. Exercise, as long as it can be done regularly, has proven benefits for healthy aging and can reduce the risk of falls, help improve mental health, and reduce other health problems that could impact your loved one’s current and future independence. Even a short walk around the block or a low impact exercise video made for an aging population can do wonders for physical and mental health.
6. Schedule social and activity time at least once or twice a week where your loved one can get out and see friends or join in on activities to participate in. Align socializing and activities for your loved one up with their preferences and what they like to do and talk with them about it. By communicating and forming a plan with your loved one, you can help them get out and spend time with others doing something they enjoy which can give them more confidence in their own abilities and a sense of belonging and purpose which is something we all desire no matter our age.
If your loved one is struggling with a loss of independence, or you need some time away from them to get refreshed and recharged yourself, it may be worth considering hiring a compassionate, experienced in-home caregiver. We offer a variety of services that include respite, medication reminders, transportation to doctor’s appointments and community events and more. For a complete list of services, check out our services page here.