We’ve all heard it – “I don’t need any help” or “I don’t want anybody in my home”.
Even when everybody involved believes assistance is needed, sometimes it is just simply rejected.
We previously covered the reason of “pride” and today we’re looking at Independence.
I’ve told countless families that outside of NASCAR enthusiasts, “taking the keys away” is less about driving and more about the loss of independence. The thought of losing one’s independence is frightening, whether that loss is through an inability to drive safely or any number of other activities of daily living. Even more, many older adults have seen their peers lose their independence and it does not conjure happy thoughts.
With these people (and I think “these people” is ALL of us), services and supports should be tailored to empower continued independence, or as much independence as is possible under the circumstances.
Here’s a real example from a family Home Helpers has served. Ms. Smith suffered a stroke, had a fall, and was no longer able to drive. Frankly, nothing bothered her more than fighting the traffic and she was well aware that her driving skills were not the best even before the stroke. Even so, she enjoyed getting out and especially liked entertaining. Our services were designed to provide transportation for her regular appointments (including numerous social outings), housekeeping and helping her get ready for dinner parties. Home Helpers empowered her to retain as much independence as possible and maintain her quality of life. She actually commented to me about how much easier it was now that she had help.
Sometimes it is not as much about “what” service is provided as it is how it is described. Words matter. Instead of describing a service as “full assist with bath,” consider saying something along the lines of, “we’ll help to make your bath safe so that you’re refreshed and ready for the day.”
Always respect an older adult’s dignity and pride, and when there is an expressed concern with loss of independence, go out of your way to assure them that this is not your intent. Rather, your intent is to empower their continued independence by helping out in a few areas.