Caregivers often have to balance the difficult task of keeping their loved ones healthy and safe from physical harm while still giving them space for independence. For example, a senior relative may not want to use a walker because they feel it’s clunky or ungainly, or they may not want to be told that it’s unsafe for them to drive a car.
It can be difficult to keep your loved one safe while maintaining their dignity. So how do you keep your loved ones protected without making them unhappy? Here are some suggestions:
It’s essential that you talk to your loved one about changes they may be going through. Present them with the facts but allow them to make their own decisions. For example, you can ask them if they would like to have certain safety features installed in their home. Inquire as to what they feel would be the best way for them to get around. In doing so, make them aware of how their decisions can affect their health and wellbeing.
Safety is a Priority
While it’s important to allow your loved one to maintain dignity, you must always put safety first. Remember the expression: “pride comes before a fall.” Never let your loved one’s pride come before keeping them safe. If your loved one is being particularly stubborn, ask a doctor for their option. Objective clinical assessments may help them come around.
Keep Dignity Intact When Possible
While safety is a priority, you should never compromise your loved one’s dignity if you don’t have to. For example, if your relative has no problems climbing stairs, there’s no reason to move them into an apartment. If they are still okay to drive, don’t interfere with the access they have to their car. Remember, wellness is not only about safety. It’s also about the happiness that comes with independence.
Take Care of Your Own Mental Health
If your relative is being stubborn in taking safety precautions, you must not let it get the best of you. Here are some steps you can take to ensure it doesn’t negatively affect your mental health:
- Don’t Blame Yourself: Blaming yourself leads to feelings of guilt and shame. Understand that your parents are not your full responsibility and do the best you can.
- Talk to Someone: Talking to someone about your situation will make you feel less frustrated. It will provide you with understanding and perspective.
- Accept the Situation: Accept that you haven’t had the impact you hoped you would. Take a breather and come back at it another day.
Taking care of our aging relatives can be incredibly difficult and often comes with its share of frustrations. It can be especially difficult if the person you are caring for is reluctant to make changes for the benefit of their safety.
If you need assistance in caring for your loved ones, take a look at our Caregiver Center where you can find plenty of helpful tools and resources to assist with both long-term planning and day-to-day care for your loved one.