If your senior is worried that you’re peeling away her independence, layer by layer, she might be uncooperative and upset. That’s not an ideal situation for either of you, but as her caregiver there are some steps you can take.
Actively Listen to What She’s Telling You
One of the reasons your senior might feel as if you’re going to stifle her independence could be that she doesn’t feel as if you listen to her. Practice active listening with her, even when you’re busy. Fobbing off the things that she says or listening with half an ear when you’re busy doing other things can leave her feeling as if you don’t really care about what she has to say. It’s not a big leap for her from that to feeling as if she and her needs aren’t important to you.
Keep Her Involved in Your Decisions
You’re making a lot of decisions as your senior’s family caregiver, but you might be shutting her out of too many of those. If she suspects that you’re not being completely honest with her or that there’s information you’re not sharing, that can lead to other suspicions, even if they’re not accurate. Keep her advised about what’s happening, even if it seems like she’s not interested.
Whenever You Can, Give Her Choices
As much as you can, offer choices to your senior. Choices show her that she’s still in control, even if what she’s in control of is which shirt she wears today. Decisions and choices both matter. They’re a way for her to express her preferences and her wishes, even if her mental or physical health has robbed her of a lot of other things in her life. Even the smallest choices can be more powerful than you realize.
Respect When She Says “No”
Your senior may choose some odd times to put her foot down and to say “no.” If it makes sense for that no to stick, let it happen. Respecting her right to say no is a really specific choice that you can stand behind for her. If the situation involves her safety, though, you may not be able to give her this one.
Your senior’s independence might be the last thing that she feels she has left. If she feels that’s being threatened, she might respond in ways that don’t make sense. It’s important as her caregiver that you help her to feel secure and supported, even when she’s afraid you’re the one that will clip her wings.
Excerpt: One of the biggest fears your senior might have is that something, even you, will take her independence.
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