Caregiving is a complex process that brings a lot of changes within the family dynamics. There are social, financial, emotional, and physical implications involved.
As someone who’s caring for your elder ones, you will also have to take a LOT of decisions; such as whether to care for them at home or to move them to one of the memory care facilities near you. But, even small decisions when taken out of haste could spoil your relationship with them.
In this post, we look at 7 ways of healthy and gentle decision-making while caring for your loved ones. With healthy communication and understanding, you can work your way through anything.
Here they are…
Respect Your Elderly One
Even though they are old and lack the kind of vigor that they once had, you must remember that they are still an individual. They still struggle with issues like self-image, self-esteem, and a wish to be respected and heard.
No matter whether it’s a small decision regarding a meal or a change of clothes or something big, you must always respect your elderly. That means keeping an open mind on things where you can heed their advice. Also, if there are instances where you can do without saying anything, that’s better.
Do not take the role of being the decision-maker but rather, an advocate. Don’t just work for them; work with them.
Give them a Choice
Some decisions in life are bigger than others. Moving your elderly to an assisted senior living facility is one of those decisions. Children of the elderly often make the mistake of taking the decision entirely on their own.
Some don’t find it necessary to even talk it over with their parents. When it comes to decisions this big, you must give them a choice. Perhaps they are not comfortable leaving their home.
Perhaps they would like to come up with some other kind of living arrangement. You should find a way to balance control with autonomy. Give them enough room to make independent choices. Even the freedom to make little choices can do great for their mental health and overall well-being.
Listen to Them
Old age can be isolating. Most elderly fear that they are alone and that no one understands them. That is why you must (whenever you can) listen to them with a keen ear. Sometimes just letting them speak their heart out can be therapeutic.
There’s a reason why people spend so much just to talk to their counselors and therapists. Talking, especially when someone is willing to hear can be healing.
When you listen to them – you get to learn their unique perspective on things. Something you didn’t know earlier. When you understand their side of the story and what they’re going through, making decisions that support their well-being in the best possible manner gets easier.
Even if you don’t always agree with what they are saying, it’s a healthy practice to listen to them whenever you can just so they feel valued.
Make them Feel an Important Member of Your Family
During old age, you don’t have much to contribute. You’re not earning. You’re not caring for your kids. You’re not able to contribute to society. This lack of contribution can take a toll on a person’s self-esteem. It can make the elderly feel they’re not important; that they are not needed anymore. This lack of purpose can make it tough to make crucial decisions.
Look for ways in everyday things where you can make them feel valued and important. It could be in things like asking them what to cook for the next meal. Or, where they would like to go for the next outing. Show respect in whatever little way that you can.
Some elderly can be hard of hearing or hearing impaired. A lot of the elderly are afraid to admit that they have trouble hearing just for the shame of it all. To avoid embarrassment, you must take into account the fact that they may not always understand you easily. Therefore, at times, you may have to practice patience while talking to them.
Don’t feel frustrated if you have to repeat yourself twice or thrice. Try to speak slowly if needed. The problem of hearing is common. And, while not all elderly may have trouble hearing and understanding; you must bear in mind that most of them are not as sharp as they used to be.
Avoid Showing a Condescending Attitude
Please note that your seniors are no longer in the prime years of their life. That’s why they are called the elderly. A lot has changed between your and their generation. They may not always ‘get’ you.
It’s easy to feel like mildly insulting them just because they don’t always get your way of living. A lot of your decisions may be based on your best understanding which is governed by your lifestyle which may be different from theirs.
Therefore, instead of showing an insulting and condescending attitude (which can seem like an easy choice), you must show them respect at all times to sail smoothly through decision-making.
Accept Difference of Opinion
No matter how close family members are; when it comes to making any decision, there are bound to remain disagreements. You must start out with that understanding in the beginning.
If there are some points where you don’t agree with your elderly; you must accept that and move on. The key to it all remains in striking the balance between finding agreements and compromises.
At times you may have to leave your ego aside and agree to what is best for them. But, at times, if you feel that a decision is not best for them do not be afraid to show an assertive attitude.
When you accept each other’s differences, it gets easier to work with each other.
When it comes to giving the best possible care to your seniors, you must always follow a gentle approach. Remember, they are at the latest stage of their life. Which means they are already scared. Being gentle can make things easy and peaceful for them.
Guest Author Bio
Holly is a seasoned writer who loves to create content related to aging issues and everything to do with senior living. She is a frequent contributor to many top online publications including Assisted Living Near Me, where she creates content that is specific to assisted living for older adults, as well as SeniorLivingFacilities.net, where she writes about common issues affecting senior citizens and provides senior living advice.