Caregiver Tips - Caregiver Tip No. 2: Don't Help Too Much
they don't admit it, people like to help themselves. Every time you do
something for a person that the person could have done without help, there is a
double loss. First, your effort may have been wasted. Second, the person has
missed an opportunity to help himself or herself.
As a caregiver,
your highest goal is to give the person you are caring for the power and the
permission to be in control of his or her own life (as much as possible). Every
act your loved one makes to maintain independence is a victory for you as a
Sometimes I think my memory is actually too good. Like when I realize I still know the lyrics to nearly every song released in the '80s. Or that I can recite, verbatim, lines from at least half a dozen episodes of Seinfeld and Sex and the City. But then I'll go to transfer a load of laundry into the dryer and discover that it's already dry; seems I forgot to ever turn on the washer. Or I'll forget my neighbor's name — again. Could it be that sitcom dialogue and song lyrics are taking...
Here are some things you can do to empower the person
you are caring for to do things independently:
Let the person make as many decisions as
possible. For example, let the person decide what to wear, what to eat, or when
to go to bed. Help him or her keep as much control as
Simplify. For example, if you are caring for a person who
dementia, divide complex tasks into simpler steps for
him or her: First, get out the cereal box. Next, get out the milk and the bowl,
and so forth.
Make it easy. One of the most productive things a caregiver
can do is to make changes in the person's home and provide tools that will
allow the person to do things without help.
Allow for mistakes and
less-than-perfect results. The hardest thing about letting someone do something
without help is knowing that you could do it better or faster. Mistakes are
Reward both the effort and the result. Help the person feel
good about doing things on his or her own.
Give the person
responsibility to care for something. Studies show that nursing home residents
who are asked to care for pets or plants live longer and become more
Match tasks with abilities. Identify the person's
skills, and try to match them with tasks that the person can do on his or her
own. If you aren't sure what tasks are reasonable, talk with the person's doctor.