Issues to Address With Empathy When Caring for Your Loved One in Decline
At Seniors Helping Seniors, we know that caring for a loved one in decline can be extremely challenging. Ailing seniors often have a trying time dealing with issues ranging from terminal illness to slow aging. There are also changes to deal with: mental health, physical capabilities, and physical strength.
How a caregiver approaches these changes will significantly impact your loved one's feelings of self-worth and assertion. Sadly, caregivers often take a negative approach by highlighting the issues of aging and decline. Instead, choose to treat your loved one with the principles of empathy, as this can go a long way in their overall happiness and dignity. Here's how to go about caregiving with respect.
Main Issues for Caregivers
Older adults have to deal with stigma about their capabilities, in addition to underlying health concerns. Adjusting to a ‘compromised’ or ‘reduced’ lifestyle can be intimidating to come to terms with, especially for previously independent and active seniors. The resulting feelings of frustration and disempowerment can lead to resisting help from friends and family.
Refusal to Change
The resistance to accepting help and care can segue into a refusal to deal with change. Many seniors struggle with accepting their condition and the changes that need to arise as a result. This interview in Forbes demonstrates that even small changes, like being unable to drive or go grocery shopping alone, are often met with resistance by old or disabled seniors.
Aging in Place
Aging in place is a crucial decision every caregiver will need to tackle. According to this ABC News article, change is more traumatic for us as we age, so start planning early and decide which environment would be best for your loved one. Some choose to move their loved ones to a nursing home or hire in-home care.
Downsizing to a home designed for your loved one's issues is also a practical solution. Start talking to realtors early so you're able to sell your loved one's homes and move them into suitable accommodations in a timely manner.
Selling their old home is also a good option to free up some cash to assist with moving expenses or costs associated with help or nursing facilities. Do some research on the going rates in the home's neighborhood to help determine its worth. Getting the house appraised and inspecting the value of its appliances and fixtures is an excellent way to determine how much you can get for the home as well.
Before you make any moves, make a point to organize any real estate-related paperwork on your computer to keep all your files together. You can use an online tool to combine PDFs so your files don’t take up too much space, and so that you can keep everything in order.
How to Utilize Principles of Empathy When Caregiving
It is imperative that as a caregiver, you respect the independence of your loved one in decline. While you may need to make adjustments to their lifestyle due to mobility or mental health concerns, recognize that there are other ways you can support them. Set up opportunities to validate their independence, such as the chance to garden or volunteer. Freedom is particularly relevant as we emerge from the pandemic, with restrictions in movement affecting your loved one's independence and routine.
Ageism can feel like a serious offense, even with the best of intentions. Treat your loved ones as individuals in their own right, rather than reducing them to simply an 'old person' or labeling them as their health issues. Treating those in decline with respect is imperative to help them accept the upcoming changes in their lives.
Dignity Is Key
Most older adults do not want to be labeled as delicate or fragile and pushed to the point where they need to become stubborn to protect their rights. While making decisions about aging, care, and treatment can be taxing, it is essential to avoid the 'we know best' attitude over your loved one.
We hope you find this article helpful when caring for an aged loved one. It can be difficult for all parties involved, considering the amount of change and resistance involved. The best way to deal with this is to humanize your loved one and treat them with the dignity, respect, and love they deserve.
Article contributed by Mary Shannon from SeniorsMeet.org