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Caregiver tips: Understanding senior disabilities and encouraging independence

Encouraging bed making, dressing and continuing activities when abilities allow is important in caregiving.
Encouraging bed making, dressing and continuing activities when abilities allow is important in caregiving.
Image: graur razvan ionut

Senior Services in Kalamazoo, Michigan assists caregivers and the elderly in finding ways to keep seniors as independent as possible. Partnering with others, seeking out resources and volunteering in outreach programs keeps the older population vibrant and self sustaining.

Professional caregivers need to understand that humankind’s basic healthy need is to be a valid member of society. Losing self care abilities is devastating, and having to rely on others adds to the debilitation.

Find ways to help each person accomplish tasks as listed in care plans. If assistance is necessary, perform the chore respectfully, while preserving the dignity of the care giving spouse and/or the loved one.

Assume the role of the caregiver client

It is important to understand from the perpective of the client. In helping others to transition into a rehabilitation patient or long term care lifestyle, the health care team should take the time to play the role.

Have someone:

  • take away the car keys for the day
  • take away decision making such as, plan all meals
  • serve, puree or cut up the food on the plate for all meals in a day
  • schedule activities for everything you do
  • put you in a wheelchair and get pushed where you don't want to go
  • tell you when you can get up, go to bed, have lunch, and where to go
  • dress you in whatever is hanging in the closet
  • put you in a diaper or adult brief

In short, think about what it would be like to have others take charge of and change your life.

Preserve dignity and treat with kindness.

Take care not to humiliate or call attention to deficiencies. When a person forgets or misplaces things, knocks over something, has a toileting accident or otherwise makes a mistake, reassure them with an kind but adult response while helping to put things in the proper place or assist in cleaning things up and continue the day with a pleasant demeanor.

Encourage continuing independence.

Homemaking: The wise in home caregiver will sit down with the client and make a list of things to do in the home, bathing and dressing, etc. and procedures for doing them. The client’s wishes should be strictly followed, however, in assessing what is expected of the caregiver, a good care plan will lay out how much the client can do for themselves.

Health care plan: In home caregivers should follow the strict plan for medication reminders, physical exercise plans and ambulation, breathing devices, transfers, meal preparations, recording fluid intake and output, and other assigned health plan duties. Discuss and train with the health care professionals and follow directions exactly in order to encourage independence.

Senior Services of Kalamazoo County, Michigan

Michigan Rehabilitation Services


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