Balancing the Need for Care with the Need for Independence


We all agree that it is a tough situation to go through – deciding if and when your loved ones need outside assistance. Sometimes that decision is almost made for you if an acute crisis triggers the need for help. Often times, though, the need is of a less acute or more subtle nature.

Your loved one may still be able to successfully navigate through their day on their own and may only require minor assistance at times. It is in situations like these that the introduction of outside help can become more difficult. Your loved one may simply not be ready to accept the fact that they need some assistance.

In these situations, the next steps that you take can be crucial for the happiness of your loved one and the success of the caregiver.

Step 1: Keeping Your Loved One Involved as Much as Possible

Step 2: Keeping Communication Open

Step 3: Allowing Your Loved One to Still Make Decisions

Keeping Your Loved One Involved as Much as Possible

Once the decision has been made that caregiver or companion services will be beneficial in your loved one’s life, it is important to allow your loved one to be involved (or to feel like they have been involved) in the planning process. If possible, have your loved one meet with the new caregiver(s) before the caregiving visits begin. After all, your loved one will be the person who works with the caregiver and ultimately comes to rely upon that person.

Both your loved one and the caregiver must feel comfortable with one another for a foundation of trust to be established. If your loved one is not comfortable with the new caregiver(s), work with the home care company to decide how to resolve the problem promptly and fairly.

At A Servant’s Heart Senior Care we personally introduce caregivers to clients with whom they have not previously worked, and normally we do this at least a day before the caregiver’s first visit with that client. By doing this we can ensure that both the client and the caregiver are satisfied that their working relationship will be satisfactory.

Once the caregiver has been introduced to your loved one, it is important that you and the home care company work together to portray the caregiver as having a position of support and not authority. Many older adults will feel their spirit and zest for life diminish once they feel they cannot take care of simple things for themselves. You must emphasize that the role of the caregiver is to simply assist your loved one in experiencing the best quality of life possible. The caregiver is there to empower your loved one and not to control them.

Keeping Communication Open

You and the caregiver and the home care company must all be watching for areas where your loved one needs help. Many times, older adults do not want to become a burden for their relatives so they do not always express their needs or concerns. It is important for you, the caregiver and the home care company to work as a team and to convey to your loved one that you want to have their input and that you are willing to listen to them. Giving your loved one a “voice” in their own care is a great way to foster their sense of independence and self-worth.

Allowing Your Loved One to Still Make Decisions

Often times when we try to help someone, it’s easy for us to in too far and take too much away from the person we are trying to help. It is important to remember that your loved one has been self-reliant up until this point and in control of his or her affairs. Try not to turn their life upside down.

If they were used to a regular schedule of daily activities, try to maintain that. If the introduction of a caregiver requires some changes to the daily routine then have your loved one help decide upon those changes. Many people, not just older adults, do not always welcome change so try to make changes in small steps.

Whenever possible, have your loved one make the final decision on a matter. Unless they are experiencing diminished mental capacity, older adults can still make competent decisions for themselves. Their sense of independence can be successfully balanced with their need for care, if they feel involved and still maintain a sense of control over their own life.

A Servant’s Heart Senior Care helps older adults and their families navigate through the next steps in aging. Whether it’s providing caregivers so that your loved ones can remain at home, resolving an immediate crisis, helping you find an appropriate retirement home or assisted living facility, or just looking in from time to time to make sure that they’re ok, we can help. Most home care companies provide only caregiving services, but we offer both caregiving and professional geriatric care management so that you have expert care and advice in one resource!

Call us toll-free at (760) 744-8200 to get started on making sure that the next steps in your loved one’s life are safe, satisfying and rewarding.

Originally posted 2008-07-28 20:01:50.

Tim Colling
Tim Colling

Tim Colling is the founder and President of A Servant's Heart In-Home Care, which provided in-home caregiving services in San Diego County, and also of A Servant's Heart Geriatric Care Management, which provided
professional geriatric care management services and long term care placement services in San Diego County. Tim has more than 30 years of experience in management in a variety of industries. He held a Certified Care Manager credential from the National Academy of Certified Care Managers. Tim is also a Certified Public Accountant (retired), and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from California State University at San Diego. In addition to writing blog posts here for the Servant’s Heart blog, Tim also is a regular contributor to and to as well as blogs of other eldercare services provider companies. Finally, Tim is also the president of A Servant's Heart Web Design and Marketing, which provides home care marketing as well as website design and online marketing for those who serve the elderly and their families.

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