Caregiving and Maintaining Your Loved One’s Independence
If you are a family caregiver caring for an aging loved, then you are familiar with the multiple challenges that the caregiving role entails. One of the big challenges to face is how to keep your loved one as independent as possible. Independence, in this context, means the ability to perform tasks on one’s own without help. In the initial stages of caring for an aging loved one, especially those living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers can end up doing too many things for their loved one. This can actually create a relation of dependence that is not healthy for any one in the relationship. For example, it can cause the caregiver to become overworked early one and lead to their loved one to feel disempowered. Instead, caregivers should try to promote independence in the loved one’s as much as is possible and healthy. Promoting independence can be great for self-esteem, psychological health, and overall mood.
In this blog, we will cover some ways to maintain your loved one’s independence to the extent possible.
(1) Overcome Misconceptions: One of the biggest misconceptions that caregivers can have concerning their loved one is that they have lost the ability to do things for themselves. This is simply not the case. Many people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, for example, are capable of performing tasks and this independence should be encouraged by caregivers.
(2) Encourage Physical Activity: One way to promote independence is through promoting physical activity, which can help maintain strength and flexibility in an aging body. If possible, accompany your loved one on walks around the neighborhood or park. These kinds of activities can be done daily and consistently. In fact, exercising on consistent basis can be beneficial for sleeping patterns, as well.
(3) Focus on Abilities, Not Weaknesses: This will allow you to reframe how you interact with your loved one as a caregiver. Instead of assuming they need help with something, try asking whether or not they are capable of it. This will allow you to keep their independence in mind.
(4) Break Up Tasks: Instead of seeing whether your loved one is capable of doing a task like “making a sandwich”, which entails a lot of steps and can be difficult for someone with Alzheimer’s to do, try breaking the task up into smaller pieces. For example, instead of considering “making a sandwich” one task, consider taking out bread, taking out a plate, scooping mayonnaise, washing lettuce, and so on as individual tasks. This will allow you to keep your loved one involved in daily tasks without them becoming frustrated or disappointed with tasks that they cannot complete.
(5) Reduce frustration: As a caregiver testing these strategies out, you may notice that your loved one will become frustrated at times, especially when they experiencing difficulty completing a task. Instead of intervening when they experience frustration, try to focus on the cause of frustration in the present moment and solve that issue. Always keep an optimistic outlook toward your loved one as not to limit their potential.
If you have any more questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.