We all want the people we love and care about to be happy and secure. However, as our loved ones age, their safety and wellbeing become more of an issue. They are fearful of losing their independence, and any assistance is viewed, through their eyes, as the beginning of the end. The elderly often will withhold information about health issues, even from medical professionals. So what should you do? Here are a few strategies:
• When safety has become a main concern, enlist the help of a professional. A physician, clergy member, or close friend whose opinion he or she respects can help convince him or her to accept needed assistance.
• How you phrase your comments and concerns is important. You will have better success when you state your needs instead of stressing his or her needs and what he or she should or should not do. Here is an example: “It will make us feel better if we know someone is here in the morning while you take a shower and remind you to take your medicine. Then you can have the rest of the day to do as you please. It’s only for a few hours.”
• Your top priority should be your loved one’s health, safety and wellbeing. Could his or her life or the lives of other people be endangered? If necessary, someone may need to get power of attorney medically and/or financially to ensure the protection of your family member’s overall best interests. Continue to reinforce any independence that may remain.
Adult caregivers of the aging often think they know what has to be done and what needs to happen quickly. If you haven’t waited until the situation is out of hand, be patient and tolerant of different opinions.
Take it slow. Ease your loved one into the change if possible. Go on several visits to facilities. Ask your parents, depending on the issue, to try something for a few times. He or she will generally become accustomed to being around the right caregiver, living in a senior community or going to a senior center for activities.
Remember, it’s not about reducing your loved one’s quality of life--it’s about increasing it!
Companion Care of America