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Promoting And Maintaining Independence Whilst Caring For The Elderly

It is important to avoid stereotyping the elderly person in your care, particularly with regard to their own independence. This is because negative images of independence can become self fulfilling. The elderly person in question begins to have low expectations of their abilities and performance. Once expectations have been set, elderly people take on the characteristics of the expectations. For example, they may begin walking slower, their memories fail quicker, they under-rate their own abilities, there is a reduced will to live, a directly negative effect on health.

The importance of maintaining independence

Independence is considered one of the most important attributes a person can possess and you should do all you can within your power to encourage independence of an elderly person in your care. Once a person loses their independence, they often lose the will to live.

Promotion of independence means encouraging the person in your care to do as much as they can for themselves. Sometimes this is met with reluctance or downright stubbornness.

Sense of achievement

Maintaining and promoting independence give a sense of pride and achievement to an elderly person, an can prevent them giving up on life completely. It makes them feel that they are not dependent on help from others and can still do something for themselves, even if it is only doing a spot of ironing or washing up. It's important to remember that this sense of achievement can be managed, even the carer has to help a little, but putting up the ironing board or example, or washing the larger items of washing up.

If someone has everything done for them, it may mean that they will lose their sense of independence and in extreme circumstances it can lead to a negative reaction toward the carer.

The nature of independence

The nature of independence depends on the elderly persons abilities and disabilities. If an elderly person is physically disabled, the carer need to look for activities that they can do such as writing letters or making telephone calls. Independence can be encourage with people whose mental ability is impaired., Activities such as washing up, light cleaning and tidying up may all be possible. Obviously what can be done varies from person to person and you may need advice from professionals as to what is and isn't possible. If you are trying a new activity, make sure it is closely supervised as you need to be satisfied that the person cannot do themselves any harm. Supervising activities can help you decide if an activity is suitable, especially if you have no previous expertise of caring for an elderly or infirm person.

Basis of a relationship

The promotion and maintenance of independence can form the basis of your relationship with the person under your supervision. They will appreciate that you are seeing them as individuals still capable of making a contribution to society and the world they live in. The may be reluctant at first, but it is well worth persevering.

Persuasion skills do come in useful if you are caring for a person who shows reluctance to be independent. As a carer in this situation, it worth taking a step back and trying not to interfere too much.

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