Perhaps you remember when your parent had the energy of a teenager, the agility of a star athlete and the enthusiasm to embrace new adventures. Suddenly, he/she cannot or should not drive, has become increasingly less mobile, and now depends on you to keep track of appointments, financial matters and other tasks. Transitioning from a life of complete independence to one in which a senior citizen must rely on their loved ones can be devastatingly difficult to accept.
Physical and mental losses of independence can include hearing, memory and vision problems, lower levels of stamina, and decreased mobility. A disinterest in visiting new places or friends, participating in sports or creative endeavors, or other social activities can also be a sign of a loss of independence. As a result, your loved one may feel fearful, angry, guilty because they must rely on others and they would prefer to do it themselves. According to the website, My Ageing Parent (www.myageingparent.com), there are useful ways to help your parent cope with their loss of independence:
1. Be patient with them. It takes time for them to acknowledge their losses and to understand how these are impacting their life now;
2. Help them understand that losing independence is a common experience as people age, and not a sign of personal failure;
3. Help them to recognize their feelings and that it’s OK to feel sad and frustrated at times without putting themselves down for not being able to do what they used to do;
4. Try to get them to listen to your suggestions about how to make things easier. This is not always easy to do, but there are many ways to keep your elderly relative engaged and interested;
5. Try to help them to maintain relationships with loving and caring friends and family;
6. Work out what help they need and try to encourage them to accept it with out guilt;
7. If you can’t get them to accept the help they need to remain safe consider engaging a professional to speak to them.
The staff at Wilf Campus are always on hand to offer support and advice to you and your loved one during this transitional stage in their lives.