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Monday, 16 January 2017 00:00

Promoting independence while caring for the elderly

Encouraging the elderly or frail loved ones to do tasks that are within their abilities independently holds wonderful benefits for their overall quality of life. With dwindling physical and mental capacities, the elderly may start feeling depressed, defeated and unable to care for themselves. Those already receiving home care may be underrating their own abilities as most things are being done for them.

Maintaining even a small amount of independence will bring with it dignity, fulfilment and increased self-esteem and happiness. Assess what tasks your loved one is able to do, find out what their interests are and take it from there.

Here are a few ideas to promote independence:

  • Daily care: if the senior in your care is able to brush her own hair, allow her to. Leave the brush in plain sight so that it’s not forgotten, or subtly hand it to her when passing.
  • Physical activity: for those who are still able, mild exercise can increase strength and reduce the risk of injury or falling. Caring for a potted garden set up on an outdoor table is a wonderful idea and the fruits of their labour can be watched and appreciated in the coming months.
  • Mental stimulation: building a puzzle or doing a crossword supports an active, healthy mind and nurtures a positive outlook on life.
  • Social interaction: a physically disabled client may still be able to write letters and make phone calls to family and friends. Socialising with others wards off loneliness and increases memory retention, while boosting their emotional wellbeing.

Always remember to ensure that the tasks chosen to be done independently will not cause harm to the elderly; whilst the point of encouraging independence is to reduce the amount of supervision required, it is still important to make sure that no injuries can occur.

Give the elderly in your care the support they need to retain a sense of achievement in their own abilities and in doing so build up their confidence and lift their mood.

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