When providing care for an older adult, it’s easy to slip into a habit of taking over tasks instead of encouraging senior independence. After all, it’s often easier to do things yourself and to provide the senior with the opportunity to sit back and enjoy being pampered.

While our intentions are certainly in the senior’s best interest, particularly in regard to safety concerns, it’s important to make sure we’re not overdoing and taking over activities the senior can still do independently.

Dr. Barry Jacobs, clinical psychologist and co-author of the book AARP Meditations for Caregivers, shares his own experience with this in providing care for his mother:

“…I mostly succeeded in curbing her independence and squelching her spirit. She didn’t see me as her caring son so much as the overbearing usurper of roles she cherished.”

Try these tips to enhance senior independence:

1- Practice patience.

Before handling something yourself, provide the senior with ample opportunity and time to complete a task independently, even if you know you could complete it more quickly and efficiently yourself. Step back and be prepared to help if needed

2 -Emphasize strengths.

Determine what the senior is able to do and provide as many opportunities as possible to utilize those abilities. Modifications to tasks can be implemented as needed; for instance, if the senior has always enjoyed gardening, creating a tabletop garden may be a more feasible option

3- Celebrate success.

Ensure the senior recognizes the benefits to be gained through enhanced independence and maintain a positive focus on everything the person is able to accomplish.

How The Medical Team Can Help

Striking a balance between ensuring a senior’s safety and empowering the person to maintain autonomy is a win-win for both caregivers and the seniors in their care. At THE MEDICAL TEAM, it is always our goal to provide a boost to each senior’s self-worth, encouraging as much senior independence as possible at all times.

With a full range of both non-medical and skilled nursing services provided right in the comfort of home, contact THE MEDICAL TEAM to improve quality of life for a senior you know. We’ve been serving seniors throughout New Orleans, Detroit, Austin, Dallas, and the metro DC area with the most trusted in-home care services for years, and are always available to provide the customized solutions that ensure seniors are living life to the fullest!