As our parents, or other loved ones, start to become more frail (today this is when they are usually well into their 80s) we often become very focused on meeting their physical needs and ensuring their safety. And rightly so - we want to make sure they are safe, and as well and healthy as possible.
With this as our focus, we can forget the person’s emotional needs and what a confronting life stage they are experiencing. Difficult behaviours or moods, may just be the way they are dealing with their worries or overwhelming emotions. Below are two of more challenging feelings our loved ones may be having and what you can do to help.
Loss, and grief, can becoming a recurring theme at this stage of life…
Loss of people - none of us live forever and people in their 80s are likely to have experienced, or begin experiencing, loss of partners, siblings, friends– individuals who were a big part of their daily lives or with whom they have shared a lifetime. Not only does this create loneliness but it is confronting for one’s own mortality.
As a supportive family member you can create a family visitation roster, or make sure you make an extra phone call or two to your loved one.
For some people grief counseling may also be appropriate.
Loss of independence — remember how liberating it was when you started making your own decisions instead of being directed by your parents? Or started driving? Freedom is fantastic, and a hard thing to lose.
The inability to take the car out for a spin, or losing the freedom to go where one chooses can be confronting. In time, as your parent or loved one adjusts to their lifestyle change, this will become less of an ordeal. However, it may be a great ‘softener’ to offer a few car trips to the shops, or to grab a coffee. The more someone can get out, the less ‘trapped’ they’ll feel.
Loss of health - the growing limitations of one’s body and being able to do less as time moves can be confronting and frustrating.
Staying mobile, eating well and being as engaged possible in the community is important – as is acceptance. Ageing is part of the life cycle and old age suggests a well, long lived life.
2. Fear …
Every age has its fears and some of the fears an older person may experience are around…
Falling — As we get older, and become less ‘fleet of foot’, the angst of falling over, and breaking bones becomes real. The installation of handrails, non-slip mats and removing tripping objects can help. Check out the Careseekers home safety list for tips on creating safe environment.
Strangers looking after them — for most people, care workers will play a part in their later stages of life. We need to build a level of ease and not trepidation around accepting care from people who aren’t family members. You can lessen this fear by actively being involved in the search for a care worker who will be a great fit for your loved one.
Every stage of life has its joys and its challenges that need to be acknowledged. Understanding the range of emotions your loved one may be feeling can only lead to better communication and decision making that works for everyone involved.
Many care workers on the Careseekers Platform are well equipped to help older people deal with the different worries life throws at them as they age - meet one today.