February 28, 2020

How to help seniors feel a sense of control

Independence. Control. Autonomy. We all strive to achieve these milestones in our lives. And once we have them, there is no going back – until it’s time to ask for help. However, the loss of these empowering attributes often leads to depression, low self-esteem and sadness for seniors.

If once vital, active family members feel as if they have lost all control over their lives, there are some things their loved ones can do to ensure seniors regain self-confidence.

Rule Number One. Ask your aging family member what he or she wants to control. Simply having control over simple things like basic food or clothing, when possible, will give elders a sense of pride. And, by the way, the rule is that control is complete control. If seniors do not have allergies or dangers associated with these choices, just let them eat and go out wearing what they want. Of course, you have to be reasonable. But who really cares if they go out in stripes and polka dots? Or dip pickles in ketchup? Haven’t they earned it?

Rule Two. Pick your battles. Seniors naturally lose choices over parts of their daily living including everything from what shoes they can wear all the way to where they can live. If you can give your senior family member more control, it’s actually less stressful for caregivers as well. Don’t sweat the little things because there are bigger issues to discuss, and you will need cooperation from your aging relatives and friends. More decision making control in one area may make them tolerant of less control in others.

Rule Three. Be open to your loved ones wanting to relinquish control over some things. Don’t see it as a weakness but more as an opportunity for you to express your appreciation to them. If they don’t want to cook anymore, fine. If they don’t want to pick out the paint colors, fine. And if they couldn’t care less about hobbies they used to love, it’s not the end of the world. It’s just the end of a chapter. Help your loved ones adjust.

Seniors experience satisfaction when they are in control of their choices and even when they aren’t. In their retirement years, different things will become important, and it can be a confusing time for them and the ones who love them. Patience is key. Don’t try to force anything, and allow them to control as much as possible. It’s good for them … and for you.

Your loved one can maintain reasonable independence at Summerfield. For independent or assisted living, or Memory Care information when the time is right, click here.

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