Caring for an aging loved one is always challenging in some ways. However, it is perhaps even more difficult when the person is declining slowly or needs an increasing amount of support simply because they are getting older. This type of caregiving leaves the door open to plenty of questions. There are also some unknowns including how fast the person will deteriorate, how willing they are to accept help and exactly what level of care they need.
Independent Senior Citizens
Seniors who have always remained fiercely independent, active and fully engaged in life often have a difficult time accepting their limitations. They sometimes fail to realize or admit they need care. Even when they do, adjusting to the changes in independence or freedom is never a simple task.
The Challenges of Strong Personalities
These individuals often have strong personalities. In fact, this has likely been a strength that they have turned to in both their personal and professional lives. This stubborn streak makes it difficult to accept support. Even admitting that taking care of themselves is challenging sometimes feel impossible. When they are still living on their own and enjoying life at home, some adjustments must be made to promote continued safety and comfort.
The senior might still have a strong desire to get out of the house but not feel safe driving anymore. Perhaps some long loved activities like tennis, jogging or swimming are no longer physically possible. However, they continue to want to remain social and enjoy the company of others. Maybe mopping and vacuuming are physically challenging, but keeping a clean home is still something they take pride in. This is often when it is time for family members to step in and talk about their loved one’s immediate and future needs for help.
Helping Seniors to Accept Care
Independent seniors often have a difficult time accepting that they need help whether it is coming from a trusted family member or a professional caregiver. Sometimes, convincing them that this support is necessary only happens when the senior is faced with a catastrophic event. Such an event causes a scare or more permanent setback. A fall is one example of this. Whenever possible, it is best not to wait until after such an event to make a plan for providing support.
Support from Family Caregivers
Families are often the first line of support for seniors. However, this poses challenging for a few reasons. First, it is not always possible for families to give seniors enough time or attention. They have to attend to their own careers and family needs too. Second, many family members live far away. While long distance family caregivers provide invaluable support to their loved ones, they cannot be there to assist with day to day care. Third, family members sometimes have a difficult time being “the bad person”. Telling a grown adult that they need to eat a certain way, take medications as prescribed or follow a particular exercise schedule is challenging. Seniors can be stubborn even when doing these things is in their best interest. Admitting their adult children are right is not always the easiest thing to do. In all of these scenarios, professional caregiver support offers effective solutions.
Finding the Right In Home Caregiver
When searching for a caregiver for a parent or grandparent, finding the right person is probably the most important step one can take. This means more than simply finding a caregiver with the skills and experience to handle day-to-day tasks. It means finding someone the senior feels connected to. In home care providers like Salus Homecare San Diego match caregivers with seniors to encourage bonding. This makes it easier for aging loved ones to accept care.
Village to Village
Another resource to consider utilizing when a senior is aging slowly and in need of support is the Village to Village network or other similar programs. Available in a greater number of communities every year, these programs match volunteers with seniors. Volunteers provide seniors with support with shopping, meal preparation, running errands and other related tasks. This invaluable support can stand alone or supplement the work of families or professional caregivers. Ultimately, this makes aging in place easier.
Whatever your choices are when supporting a loved one who is gradually declining, make sure to have a plan in place. By using professional and community resources, the task is often made easier. This empowers seniors as they continue to feel supported while aging in place. Keep this in mind as you search for the solutions that are right for your family and support both your needs and the needs of your aging loved one.
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