Helping or Hindering? Strike the Right Balance Between Safety and Senior Independence

Happy mother and daughter outside

As the seniors in our lives age at home, some of their favorite tasks and activities can become more of a challenge for them, especially as it relates to their safety. When they try to cook your favorite childhood recipe, they may struggle with cutting hard vegetables. When they try to go on beloved walks with the grandkids, they may only make it to the end of the block before they get winded. These changes are natural, but they cause some safety concerns.

While senior independence is crucial, these concerns may lead you to start helping more often for the sake of the senior’s safety. Cutting the vegetables for them, replacing them on the walks with their grandchildren – it’s easy to step in, thinking you’re helping make them safe and comfortable as they age.

However, aging loved ones could see your help as overstepping boundaries. Of course, the help you give is out of love and care for their safety, but you could accidentally be depriving aging loved ones of their most cherished moments.

As caregivers, we know it’s challenging to find the right balance between maintaining safety and independence for older adults, but it’s an important one to find. Here are tips to remember that will help you balance senior independence with safety:

  1. Focus on what they can do – As loved ones age, it’s easy to notice the skills they’re losing rather than the skills they’re retaining. However, encouraging seniors to continue doing the tasks and activities they can still manage helps boost seniors’ self-esteem and keep those skills sharp. For example, if they can’t cook your favorite meal anymore, encourage them to at least help prepare the meal so that they’re feeling useful and retaining some meal prep skills.
  2. Don’t offer help too quickly – Just because an aging loved one may struggle with a task from time to time does not mean that they’ve completely lost that skill. Instead of jumping in to complete tasks for them without asking, remember to observe them trying to complete the tasks first, allowing extra time as needed, and then offer your help if it’s necessary.
  3. Make a plan early on – Make it a point to have a conversation with aging loved ones about how they’d like to be supported as their abilities change over the years. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but it can help prevent arguments in the future.
  4. Remind them that help is empowering! – As seniors age, needing help with certain tasks can feel like they’re losing their independence or being treated like a child. Remind them that your help is actually just to support them while keeping them as safe as possible. You’re not taking away their independence. You’re aiding in it.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to keep the seniors in your life safe while also ensuring that they feel the independence to live their lives to the fullest on their own terms. You can adjust the help you offer as time goes on and their skills ebb and flow, but by keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be able to do so without overstepping their boundaries.

If you need help with elder care in Prescott or the many communities that we serve throughout Arizona, our expert caregivers can help! We encourage senior independence at home while also keeping aging loved ones safe in their day-to-day activities. Contact us online or at 877.71.ABRIO to learn more!