“Wait a minute; I’ll help you with that.”
“Take it easy and don’t overdo it!”
“I’ll handle that; you just sit and rest.”
How often have we made statements like these to older adults, with only the best intentions, naturally? We want to do anything possible to assist our senior loved ones, to keep them safe and to look after them in the same way they took care of us when we were growing up. Nonetheless, there is a hidden threat in trying to do too much for seniors and depriving them of the opportunity to do as much as they can independently – the danger of harming self-esteem in the elderly and their sense of meaning and purpose in life.
Take, for example, a senior gentleman who spent his entire life taking care of his family, and now has entered into the initial stage of dementia. Given that he has always self-identified as a provider, becoming dependent on another to provide for him can be very hard and even feel demeaning. It is essential to help him uphold the sense of being needed by others, and there are a variety of techniques to achieve just that. Try these tips from Harmony Home Health & Hospice to increase a senior’s self-esteem:
- Seek guidance. Being granted the opportunity to share knowledge and wisdom is a great boost to a senior’s self-esteem, and there is definitely a lot we can learn from older adults. Find little ways throughout the day to ask the senior’s advice on how to make a perfect batch of biscuits, how to stop the draft coming in underneath the back door, how to soothe a cranky baby, etc.
- Ask for help. As in-home caregivers, it is our responsibility to assist older individuals with various needs, but we also recognize the value of allowing seniors the opportunity to perform helpful responsibilities, too. It doesn’t have to be a monumental task to maintain the feeling of being needed. Be aware of the senior’s cognitive and physical limitations, and request his/her help appropriately. For instance, a person who is in a wheelchair can sit at the table and assist with baking and cooking related tasks, polish silverware, or sort hardware in a toolbox.
- Verbally express your respect. Although you may presume the senior understands how you feel, it’s a wonderful feeling to be told how much we mean to one another. Take time to point out specific ways the older person has aided you in some way and how much you appreciate that help, from learning to ride a bike, to parenting skills, to the ability to paint or draw or carve wood. Be truthful in your compliments, and share them frequently, from your heart.
A skilled in-home caregiver, such as the professional home health caregivers at Harmony Home Health & Hospice, is adept in sustaining the delicate balance between providing care for seniors and increasing their sense of purpose and meaning. Contact us at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE (1-877-463-3322) to learn more about our in home care in Provo or the surrounding communities.