Just as “live and let live” is great advice, so is “care and let care”. In fact, if you’re a family caregiver, this should be your new motto! It can be easy to let your instinct to problem-solve take over when caring for an older loved one, but encouraging independence in small, everyday ways will increase an older adult’s feelings of self-worth and achievement.
The following are some tips to help encourage independence:
- Encourage the person to do things for himself, even if met with reluctance or stubbornness.
- Provide opportunities for exercise and activities that the person is capable of doing.
- Ask before taking over. It’s normal to want to jump immediately into help mode when you see a loved one struggling with a task, but before you do so, ask if help is needed. It could be that your loved one just needs a little more time to accomplish the task on his own.
- Research assistive devices such as medication reminder devices, products to assist with specific disabilities and gadgets to make everyday activities such as opening a jar or holding a utensil easier.
- Let your loved one do some activities that you know he is capable of, like washing up or walking a few steps without assistance. It is important to remember that even if you have to help a little or provide supervision for safety, small activities like these still provide a sense of achievement.
- Assist with home safety adaptations such as bathroom grab bars, hand rails, adequate lighting, home accessibility and furniture placement.
Being a caregiver doesn’t mean taking on every aspect of care yourself. Allow your loved ones to care for themselves and contribute to their own lives as much as possible. You may even be surprised by how much they can do!
Need more tips on how to promote independence in your loved one? Contact the caregiving experts at Reliable Caregivers of the San Francisco Bay area today!