What does your senior mean when she tells you that she wants to keep her independence? That answer might vary from one situation to another and so it’s important to understand what your own senior’s definition is.
Talk to Her about What Independence Means for Her
The first step in maintaining independence for your senior is to learn what independence means for her. For your aging family member, independence could mean that she continues to drive for as long as she wants. Or independence might mean that she continues to live alone, even though she has help during the day. When you understand what her definition is, you can help her to meet her goal far more readily.
Let Her Do Her Thing
Most often, independence for an aging senior means that they’re able to handle tasks on their own to a certain point. If you’re jumping in to help with everything, your elderly family member might appreciate the help and yet still feel as if this is interfering with her independence. Let her do what she can and ask you for help when she’s ready. By waiting for clear indications that she wants help, you’ll avoid overstepping.
Focus on What She Can Do and not What She Can’t Do
Keep the focus on what your senior can still do. When the focus shifts to what she can’t do any longer, that fosters a sense of loss. Let your elderly family member continue with the skills that are still strong for her. If she’s having more difficulty standing to cook but she still wants to cook, try setting up a stool for her in the kitchen.
Learn from Elderly Care Providers
Elderly care providers have a lot of experience with this sort of thing. They can help you to learn how to evaluate and to respect your senior’s boundaries when it comes to independence. Accepting help from you or from elderly care providers isn’t what makes your senior feel as if she’s less independent. It’s often the feeling that help is being forced on her that changes her perspective on it.
Independence is going to mean different things at different times for your aging adult. As her definition changes, so too will the level of extra help that she needs. Work with her to make sure that you’re helping her to hit that goal throughout your journey as a caregiver.