As a family caregiver, it is your responsibility to find as many ways as you can to help your parent live their highest quality of life.
This goes beyond just addressing their physical health challenges or helping them to stay safe. You should also consider ways that you can support their mental and emotional health and boost their quality of life as well.
One way to do this is through supporting their continued expression of independence and autonomy, and encouraging them to make decisions throughout their life is a great way to do this. Even elderly adults who are dealing with a cognitive functioning decline and memory loss can be active participants in their own lives by making even simple decisions every day.
Just as important as making sure that your parent has the opportunities to make these decisions, however, is ensuring that your parent can make these decisions successfully. This will reduce the risk of frustration or anger that can come from feeling like they cannot come to a decision, or that their decision was not heard or respected.
Use these tips to help set your parent up for success when making decisions:
-Only offer viable options. Rather than asking an open-ended question that your parent could answer with virtually anything, potentially putting you in the position of not being able to do what they decide, structure their decisions. Offer viable options that will allow your parent to evaluate possibilities and come to a conclusion about one that is best for them.
-Streamline decisions. Even if the decisions seem small and are between just two options, making several decisions at one time can be extremely overwhelming for your parent. Streamline their decisions by having them decide between complete options rather than elements of options. For example, rather than asking them what shirt, pants, shoes, and accessories they want to wear, put together two complete outfits and ask them which they would prefer.
-Show your support. Emphasize that you know that your parent can make a good decision or that you trust in their judgment. Saying something like, “You’ve always had such good taste in clothes” or “You always made the most delicious dinners” makes these decisions more about their opinions than just an arbitrary choice. It shows that you love them and acknowledge and appreciate them as an individual, which can motivate them to make more decisions.
How can an elderly care provider help?
Being a family caregiver for a senior adult can be stressful, but fortunately, elderly care can be there for you. An elderly care provider can be with your parent on a schedule that is right for them as well as for you to ensure that your senior gets everything that they need to maintain their health, safety, and quality of life both when you are with them and when you are not.
This care can be a tremendous source of stress relief for you. Knowing that your parent is in good hands means that you can step back and focus your energy, attention, time, and resources in the most efficient and meaningful ways. This can be especially beneficial if you are in the sandwich generation caring for your parent and your children, or if you live at a distance from your parent and do not feel you are able to care for them in the way that they need and deserve.