4 Ways to Support Senior Independence for Your Aging Loved One

Author: Debbie Humphrey

From my early experience working in the banking industry, to my current career as a Certified Senior Advisor, I have learned that every aging adult has their own unique lifestyle and perspective about the physical and mental challenges they deal with on a daily basis.

Some of the challenges seniors face are mild, while others are much more pronounced. The point is, that senior independence looks different for each aging adult.

For example, I have caregivers who are highly trained and certified in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. In the early stages of these diseases, clients may be fine to live alone and can manage basic tasks without assistance. As demented behaviors progress, clients will likely require 24-hour in-home care and monitoring, or they may need to move to a facility with skilled nursing care or hospice services.

The majority of our clients do not fall in this category, though. Still, the services each senior receives to make their life easier can range from basic companion care to short-term recuperative care, depending on that individual’s specific needs.

That is important for several reasons. If a caregiver does too much to help a senior, it can cause that person to lose their sense of purpose, dignity, and independence. That can have problematic physical and mental impacts.

Dr Barry J. Jacobs, a clinical psychologist, family therapist, and healthcare consultant, explained in an article he penned for AARP, about his experience when caring for his own mother: “With all of my best intentions and concerted energies, I mostly succeeded in curbing her independence and squelching her spirit. She didn’t see me as her caring son so much as the overbearing usurper of roles she cherished.”

Family caregivers often run into issues such as these because the senior is a loved one and they want to do all they can. A professional caregiver understands this dilemma and delivers just what the client needs when they need it. Caregivers also step in to provide respite care for weary family caregivers who could benefit from a break.

After carefully evaluating the situation with his Mom, Dr Jacobs suggests there are 4 ways to support senior independence without minimizing it.

  1. Have an open discussion. Talk openly with your senior loved one about their current physical and mental condition and what the future might look like for them if and when they need help. Are there particular things they want to continue managing for as long as possible without help? Of course, there are! The level at which they will be capable of doing them may be constrained down the road, so it’s important to address future in-home care and assistance before it’s needed.
  2. Look before you leap. Dr Jacobs found out that jumping in to help his Mom with every little thing was too much too soon. By observing your senior loved one’s behaviors, you may discover they don’t need as much help as you think at first glance. Everyone has an off day once in a while!
  3. It’s about what they can do, not what they can’t. “Steer (your loved one) toward (their) strengths — for example, talking on the phone if (they haven’t) the eyesight or fine dexterity to legibly write, setting the table if (they haven't) the organizational skills to cook a full-course meal, or remembering old times if (they’ve) lost short-term recall,” says Dr Jacobs.
  4. Explain that help is empowering. The goal is to keep your senior loved one living as independently as possible for as long as possible. By explaining that your role as their loved one is to help them maintain that independence and have a healthy quality of life, your special senior may embrace the empowerment of having a little help and support now and then.

Home Helpers® is your extended family when family can’t be there to lend professional assistance, in-home care, and support for senior independence in the Clearwater area. I welcome the opportunity to sit down for a FREE consultation and assessment of needs so I can review the many services Home Helpers® Clearwater provides. During this assessment, I will answer all of your questions and ask some of my own to craft the perfect Cared-4℠ Customized Care Plan that is perfectly suited for you or your loved one to stay independent at home.

We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2016-2022 and the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2022. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539




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