An Often Overlooked Aspect of Senior Care: Preserving Purpose and Meaning

caregiver holding hands with senior
Caregivers are uniquely positioned to help those they care for maintain a sense of purpose in life.

“Hold on – let me help.”

“Don’t over-exert yourself!”

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

How many times have we made statements like these to seniors, certainly with only the best of intentions? We want to do whatever is possible in an effort to help our aging loved ones, to keep them safe and to look after them in the same way they took care of us when we were younger. Nonetheless, there is a concealed threat in trying to do too much for seniors and denying them of the chance to do as much as possible independently – the danger of harming their self-assurance and sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Take, for example, an elderly gentleman who devoted his whole life to taking care of his family, and just recently has progressed into the beginning phase of dementia. Because he has continuously self-identified as a provider, being reliant on someone else to provide for him can be very difficult and even feel demeaning. It is important to help him uphold the feeling of being needed by others, and there are various methods to accomplish just that. Try these recommendations from Heaven at Home Senior Care:

  • Obtain advice. Being granted the opportunity to share insight and wisdom is a wonderful enhancement to an older person’s self-regard, and there is definitely a lot we can learn from older individuals. Think of small ways throughout the day to request the older person’s guidance on how to make a perfect pot roast, how to fix the draft coming in under the front door, how to comfort a cranky toddler, etc.
  • Find hands-on assistance. As in-home caregivers, it is our responsibility to assist older adults with assorted needs, but we also realize the value of allowing seniors the opportunity to carry out helpful responsibilities too. It doesn’t have to be a complicated task to maintain the sense of being needed. Take note of the senior’s cognitive and physical limitations, and ask for his/her help appropriately. For example, a person who is in a wheelchair can sit at the table and assist with baking and cooking related tasks, polish silverware, or sort hardware in a toolbox.
  • Verbally show your respect. While you may presume the senior understands how you feel, it’s a phenomenal feeling to be told how much we mean to one another. Take time to point out specific ways the older individual has assisted you in some manner and how much you value that help. This may include learning to drive a car, parenting techniques, or the ability to draw or paint or carve wood. Be honest in your compliments, and say them often, sincerely, and from your heart.

Trained in-home caregivers, such as the professionals at Heaven at Home Senior Care, are adept in sustaining the sensitive balance between providing care for older individuals and boosting their sense of purpose and meaning. Contact us at (940) 380-0500 to learn more about options for senior care in Denton, view our full service area, or to schedule a free in-home evaluation for your senior loved one.