By Beth Pinyerd
As caregivers for my late parents, my brothers and I remember the compromises my parents and ourselves had to agree to in helping them cope with daily tasks without them experiencing discouragement or frustration.
My mother always let us children know that “she was still captain of her ship.” Blessed to live to 97 years old, my mother always stressed to us children that as long as she could, she wanted to live independently and tend to her business.
I’d like to share some tips that I have gleaned from my elderly friends and my own experiences of being one of the caregivers of my elderly parents in encouraging the quality of life.
In the Bible, God tells us in Job 12:12, “Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days understanding.” As caregivers, we are to give understanding to our elderly love ones. I’d like to share general suggestions on helping our love ones while encouraging their feelings of independence.
- Include your elderly loved one in decision making. I learned first hand that as a caregiver, I could not control and do everything for my elderly mother. Healthcare professionals that guided me in caregiving suggested that I do more interactive caregiving where I included my mother in making decisions concerning her care.
The lesson I learned was that in caregiving it is so very important to involve the love one in decision making so they feel like they still have some influence on the path of their lives. When I have volunteered and do song time with my elderly friends, they cherish Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
The words “ I’ve lived a life that’s full, I’ve traveled each and every highway, but more, much more than this, I did it my way.” represents this generation which has accomplished so very much for our nation and the world!
- We human beings tend to desire to be on a schedule. It is part of our human nature to know what is happening ahead. In the childhood classroom, students want to know what “we” do next. It gives them a foundation of getting tasks done.
This is the elderly’s same desire. As we get older, we have to pace ourselves to accomplish tasks. This takes planning a reasonable schedule for our elderly love ones.
In planning for our elderly family members and friends, we need to make sure we schedule more time for tasks that seem to be difficult for our elderly love ones to do. Plan time during the day that you and your love ones agree on that certain tasks are more easily done. The main goal is to help our elderly love ones not to become discouraged or frustrated in doing daily tasks. As family and friends’ caregivers, we need to encourage our elderly love ones to accept help while maintaining independence.
- Daily observations of my elderly friends have revealed that our elderly family members and friends need to be given options of what they desire to do during the course of a day. For instance, my mother loved playing bridge. On “Bridge Day,” she would spend her afternoon playing the game. She and I decided that on Bridge Day, there would be no morning activities or appointments planned. This decision we made provided some autonomy while still guiding her to make decisions which helped her physically so that she could fully enjoy playing the game.
- Offer coping skills for disabilities which the elderly may have such as low vision, deafness and walking disabilities. In our modern era, we are blessed to have many resources and helps in dealing with disabilities. These professionals are able to offer services to our elderly love ones in a positive way.
Support groups provide an avenue for the elderly to interact with their peers and share. To realize your peers are also going through the challenges of aging encourages our elderly family and friends to realize that they are not alone.