It’s easy for a parent’s “safety instinct” to kick in. It happens automatically when they see their toddler’s busy hands near an electrical outlet, when their youngster gets on the school bus the first time, or when their teenager is backing out of the driveway headed off to college. That same safety instinct can also appear for the child of an aging adult. Concerns over a senior’s mobility and the possibility for falls and injuries can surface. These are normal thoughts that attest to a child’s concern who works on keeping a balance between the safety and dignity of their loved one.
But, these concerns can cause children to jump in and start taking over a parent’s daily tasks or make physical changes to their living space without asking. This may be good for the loved one’s safety, but it can also cost them some of their dignity.
If you find yourself feeling that it’s easier just to “do it yourself” when it comes to your parent’s daily activities and safety, don’t be too hard on yourself. It shows how much you care. But, you also want to maintain a healthy balance between keeping them safe and having them maintain their dignity. Here are several suggestions to help you do that.
Let your loved one help with decisions
Having a say in even the most basic decisions can make a big difference in a senior’s self-esteem. Instead of just assuming your loved one wants you to accompany them into the doctor’s exam room, ask if they would like you in there with them. Or give them choices of what they might like for lunch or dinner, instead of picking something for them without asking.
Work together on projects
When you can, find ways to do things together with your loved one, and not do everything for them. For example, you may be concerned about their ability to prepare a meal from start to finish without becoming over-tired physically. If so, get them involved by sitting at the kitchen table and mixing ingredients as you spend time together, reminiscing about recipes and special meals over the years.
Mix safety with respect
While keeping your loved one safe is extremely important, it can be done without them feeling boundaries were overstepped. Medical alert systems, for example, are an excellent way to provide seniors the means to call for help when needed, but they also help promote and maintain independence.
Talk about change
Change is inevitable for aging adults. The senses diminish, and reflexes get slower. But changes are then made, like getting glasses or driving more slowly. Don’t be afraid to talk with your loved one about making necessary changes, and offer your help – don’t force it upon them.
Use the help of a professional caregiver
It can diminish a senior’s feelings of dignity when a child has to help them take care of personal needs, such as bathing or using the toilet. They often find it more agreeable to receive help from a professional, in-home caregiver who is highly trained and experienced with helping older adults maintain their dignity while staying safe at home.
The caregivers at Family Resource Home Care will help keep your loved ones safe and give them the respect they deserve. We’re available to help for a few hours a day, all the way up to 24/7 care. Give us a call today at (800) 775-6380 to arrange a free, in-home consultation about our services.
We look forward to serving your family.