Life is sweet at home

Maintaining Dignity When You Care for Elderly Loved Ones

How do you treat your loved one with dignity and respect? Photo by Larry Flynn

It’s easy to slip into a “protective” role when you are responsible for home care for someone else, especially a family member. But we need to remember that unless the person is experiencing some cognitive failure (brain damage because of a stroke, Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive health problem), he still makes decisions about his life.

Sometimes he may make decisions that you wouldn’t make, but it is his choice. This can be difficult for you as a caregiver; you will need to watch yourself and guard against overprotection.

At Andelcare, as providers of high-quality home care services, we understand that among the most important human needs is the desire for respect and dignity. That need doesn’t change when a person becomes ill or disabled. Indeed, it may grow even stronger.

There are many things you can do to make sure the elderly person in your care receives the respect and dignity that is every person’s basic human right.

Respect the Senior’s Privacy, Physically And Emotionally.

  • Close the door when you help him dress or use the bathroom.
  • Knock before opening a closed door.
  • Don’t discuss confidential information with other people, even family members, without his permission.

Respect the Senior’s Right To Make Choices

  • By making choices we have a sense of control over our life. Let your elderly family member or person in your charge decide what and when to eat, for example, if he is able.
  • If he has cognitive problems, offer choices of what to eat, when to eat, what to wear. If he insists on wearing the same shirt every day, use a protective towel when he eats, and wash clothes in the evening.
  • If a choice seems silly or unimportant to you, try to see why it may be important to him.
  • If the elderly family member refuses to take medication or makes other choices that would be dangerous, try to negotiate possible solutions. Offer pills with a favorite snack (if the prescription allows), agree to give baths only as often as absolutely necessary, arrange for someone to take walks with him if he is unsafe by himself.

Treat Your Senior With Dignity

  • Listen to your elderly person’s concerns.
  • Ask for his opinions and let him know they are important to you.
  • Involve him in as many decisions as possible.
  • Include him in the conversation. Don’t talk about him as though he’s not there.
  • Speak to him as an adult, even if you’re not sure how much he understands.

How do you care for your elderly loved one with dignity?