These days, many elders prefer to live in their own home and do things for themselves. Unfortunately, circumstances change slowly over time so that they are not even aware that they have become unable to take care of themselves as they use to. Family members find themselves spending more time assisting their loved ones with chores and activities such as grocery shopping, doctor visits, house cleaning, and food preparation. The cause may be related to increasing physical impairment due to age or disease.
Declining mental ability from the onset of dementia or just plain forgetfulness can affect the elder’s ability to remember to shop, cook or even to eat. The worse-case scenario is the impact of these changes on a person’s ability to live alone safely such as forgetting to take their medications, forgetting to bathe, or forgetting to turn off the stove after cooking a meal. Many elders suffer from depression from the increasing social isolation and inactivity.
There are many home health care services available to support seniors so they can remain independent in their own home. The biggest problem for family members is convincing their loved one to not only accept help but accept it from strangers. Here are some suggestions to overcome their reluctance:
- If the family member becomes overwhelmed with providing increased caregiving duties, they need to ask their senior loved one to get help to make life easier. Phrasing it as, "You can't do this," won't get the response you want, but "As a favor to me," will make the suggestion easier to accept. Give some examples so that the senior knows exactly what is being asked of them. Some examples many include:
- someone to take them grocery shopping
- give them a ride to the doctors visit
- someone to help with your laundry
- help with cooking meals
- Instead of the family member making the suggestion, enlist the help of a trusted friend, priest, or even the physician to suggest hiring help of a personal support worker so they can remain in their own home. Make sure the person suggesting the help has valid examples of help that can be provided, and who can provide this help.
- Don’t make decisions for an elder, unless they are incapable of doing so due to a mental impairment. Giving a person feeling of control by participation will greatly help in the success of accepting any changes. If you can get them to agree to accepting help, then be ready to give them several viable options from which they can choose for that help.
- Show them how accepting help will allow them to stay safely in their own home. Qualicare offers a free in-home consultation where the visiting RN can explain all the services they provide and answer questions.
- If they are almost ready to agree, but feel uncomfortable with strangers coming into their home, suggest that they take a test run and see how it goes. A family member may even be present for the first few visits just to reassure their senior loved one that they will be safe. Home care agencies are well aware of all these issues and are very good at matching specific caregivers with their senior clients by finding some commonalities between both.
It is common that seniors want to stay in their own homes in familiar and comfortable surroundings. But as time goes by, the changes associated with aging such as declining eyesight, decreased physical strength, and forgetfulness can negatively impact their ability to function as they have in the past. Family members that step in to help can eventually become overwhelmed with the time commitment. There comes a time when it becomes necessary to get seniors to accept the help of others.