Maintaining senior independence at home      is an important part of what helps older adults feel confident and content. However, it is natural for family members to become unsure how much the aging adult is actually capable of without harming themselves, and that can create a safety concern. If you have a senior loved one who is adamant that they don’t require help, there are some tactful ways to honor that independence while also making sure their safety isn’t compromised.

Why is senior independence so important?

As our aging loved ones get older and start to have trouble with certain tasks, it may seem natural to step in to help them avoid those struggles. However, there are some dangers in taking over too many of these everyday tasks. Not only can overextending assistance make the aging adult feel incompetent or like they’re being treated like a child, but it can also hasten cognitive and physical decline. Even seemingly small physical and mental stimulation from everyday chores and activities can help maintain optimal functions in an aging adult, and of course, you’d want to maintain that as much as possible.

Allowing space for seniors to maintain their independence in different ways also helps with:

  • Making sure the aging adult feels like they’re contributing to the world and people around them
  • Daily practice for ongoing self-sufficiency
  • Fostering feelings of achievement and self-reliance

How do you balance senior independence with senior safety?

When safety or speed is a concern as aging adults are completing certain tasks, our nerves can get the best of us, and we can easily start to take over too many tasks, impeding on the senior’s independence. Transitioning into receiving care is already a potentially frustrating process for aging adults, and having a family member stunt their independence can make it worse. However, there are a few ways to know when to step in versus when to step back.

If you think an aging adult needs assistance, try some of these tips before you lend a hand:

  • Take a pause before stepping in.      It’s easy to assume that an aging adult needs help with a specific task every time it occurs. However, sometimes taking a step back before stepping in to help with a task or spending a couple of days just observing the aging adult before assuming they need daily help can help them to retain the skills they already have while also allowing you or a caregiver to step in when it’s most needed. It’s also a great way to evaluate the areas of safety concerns that may arise.
  • Embrace what the aging adult can still do.      Retaining skills as an aging adult is very important. It’s also important as a family caregiver to help aging adults embrace the skills they’ve successfully maintained. For example, you can encourage a senior to do tasks around the home like dust or fold laundry, but then extend a helping hand with high or low surfaces that may throw off their balance or when carrying a large load of laundry that may be too heavy for them.
  • Communicate as early as possible.      Contact a professional home care agency, such as Home Care Assistance of Raleigh, who can arrange a home visit with the senior and family member. This visit gives the senior a chance to have input with the care plan being developed while also becoming aware of the safety concerns they should be considering in their daily activities.
  • Frame a     ssistance as e     mpowerment.      Make it clear to the aging adult receiving help that your assistance is meant to foster their independence while keeping them safe, which can help them avoid the feeling that they are losing control over their life. 

If you are looking for a caregiver in Raleigh or the surrounding areas that can help you find the balance between senior independence and senior safety, Home Care Assistance of Raleigh can help! Our caregivers are expertly trained in when to step in and step back to maintain both independence and safety. If you’d like to hear more, contact us today online or at 919-436-1871 for more information.