Anyone who has taken care of someone who was once independent, and now the aging process has presented memory decline, physical slowness, or suffering from a debilitating condition, will understand and appreciate this discussion. Caregivers cope with care recipients in an array of health and physical situations. For sure, it is hard to feel like you cannot care for yourself. It can be a mental stressor and sometimes care recipients can shut down and stop participating in their care. Caregiving does not exclude the care recipient in participating in their own care. I stress being firm without apology when the care recipient can feed themselves or brush their teeth after a health challenge. Being motivated after a health challenge can be a real issue, but as a caregiver knowing the abilities of the one you care for should continue even when they do not want to participate.
What does a caregiver do?
I will never forget being told I was mean one day while helping my mother carry out a task; she had done often with minimal effort. Being firm to help keep’ gross motor and fine motor skills working for seniors if possible, requires being firm, stern, and loving. The real question is knowing when to step in and take over when difficulties and self-care challenges are clear. My mother used to fill her own pill box and for years, I let her do it. It required her reading the prescription bottles, understanding the dosing, and knowing the shapes and sizes of her pills. My initial role was to check her final endeavors. When she wanted to continue to fill her pill box after finding the mixing of medications and finding pills on the floor, I stepped in. Mommy felt like I was taking over, and I was, for safety sake. Firmly, I made that known.
It is important to remember the care recipient is struggling with being able to do the things that once came easy and with little thought. As the people you are caring for decline physically or cognitively, you must step in, even as they are fighting you and losing their motivation to participate in whatever way they can. Being firm and stern without apology is a part of being a caregiver; keeping in mind that safety and well-being should always be the proactive mindset.