How to Help Aging Adults Maintain Dignity, Purpose, and Meaning

Helping the aging adults we care about maintain a sense of self-worth is crucial.

“Here, let me help you with that.”

“Don’t over-exert yourself!”

“You can just sit here and rest; I’ll handle that.”

How often have we made statements such as these to aging adults, with the best motives, of course? We want to do whatever we can in order to help our older loved ones, to ensure they are 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 older adults and depriving them of the chance to do as much as they can for themselves – the threat of negatively impacting senior self-confidence and a sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Take, for example, an older gentleman who spent his whole life providing for his family, and recently has entered into the beginning phase of Alzheimer’s disease. Since he has always self-identified as a provider, having to be reliant on someone else to provide for him can be quite a challenge, and even feel demeaning. It’s critical to help him preserve the knowledge of being needed by others, and there are many approaches to achieve just that. Try these tips from All Care In-Home Care Solutions’ professional caregivers in Medford, Oregon and the surrounding area:

  • Obtain guidance. Being provided with the occasion to share insight and wisdom is a great boost to a senior’s self-esteem, and there is undoubtedly a lot we can learn from aging adults. Find small ways through the day to ask the senior’s advice on how to make a perfect pan of lump-free gravy, how to stop the draft coming in underneath the front door, how to soothe a fussy toddler, etc.
  • Seek hands-on support. As in-home caregivers, it is our duty to assist older adults with a variety of needs, but we also understand the value of allowing seniors the opportunity to carry out helpful tasks. It doesn’t need 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 example, a senior who is in a wheelchair can sit at the table and help with meal preparation related tasks, polish silverware, or sort hardware in a toolbox.
  • Verbally demonstrate your respect. Although you might presume the senior understands how you feel, it’s a wonderful feeling to be told how much we mean to someone else. Take time to point out particular ways the older individual has helped you in some way and how much you appreciate that help, from learning to drive a car, to parenting techniques, to the ability to draw or paint or carve wood. Be truthful in your compliments, and share them frequently, from your heart.

A trained in-home caregiver, such as those at All Care In-Home Care Solutions, is proficient in maintaining the delicate balance between providing care for older individuals and boosting their sense of purpose and meaning. Contact us to learn more about our home care services, view our full service area, or to schedule a complimentary in-home assessment for your senior loved one.