In the age of COVID, many seniors are finding themselves dealing with a sudden loss of independence. As elderly individuals are asked to shelter in place, seniors are sacrificing their social life to protect their health.
This sacrifice, although important, is not without consequence. According to the National Institutes of Health, a senior’s loss of independence “can trigger a number of emotions like anger, fear, guilt, and depression.”
For those with loved ones sheltering in place, here is a brief guideline on how to maintain senior independence through COVID-19.
Make A Plan
One of the best ways to ensure that your loved one maintains their feelings of autonomy is to make a plan. Find a time for you both to have an open and honest conversation about their capabilities, the present situation, and the future.
Make sure to mention the possibility that they might lose cognitive or physical abilities. Ask how they would like to navigate that territory? Would they like a full-time caregiver to join their ‘bubble’? Would they prefer a home health aide?
Make sure to frame the conversation in a way that’s inclusive to your loved ones desires. It should be a dialogue between two parties. If the conversation is solely you stating your game plan, this can seem patronizing and controlling to your loved one!
If your loved one is missing their regular activities, you can always turn to the internet! Nearly everything has gone digital within the last few months. Be it pub trivia, dance parties, or even bingo tournaments!
If your loved one is not comfortable with the technology, carve out some time to teach them. This can be you, a home health aide, or other primary caregiver. Make sure to be patient and receptive; don’t forget to honor your loved one’s willingness to learn a foreign skill!
Lend A Caring Ear
A great way to empower your aging loved one’s independence is to actively listen to any complaints that they have. There’s a likelihood that they have complaints. It’s a known fact: social distancing is not fun, especially when a vibrant social life has been reduced entirely to a computer screen!
Thus, one of the best ways to be there for your loved one during this loss of independence is to listen. Listen to their frustrations, and make certain to honor their feelings. Share your frustrations as well. Remember, this is an unprecedented time, and we are all on this crazy journey together!