“No thanks, I’ve got it just fine” is one of the biggest little white lies many of us seem to tell way too often. Admit it – it’s not an easy thing for residents of Maquoketa and elsewhere to seek help or even accept help, no matter their age, mobility, and health conditions.
Even people receiving hospice care may initially try to decline assistance, even if we later decided that it is needed and it is appreciated.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice are familiar with this sort of “I’ll take care of it” mentality in many of our clients.
So, we have to come up with creative and sometimes subtle ways to get our clients to accept our help or request it. Either one is OK with us – we’re here to help! – but we also understand why many people, especially seniors, try to do as much as they can on their own, maybe even more than they should.
That’s OK – we understand and appreciate the need to do to try to be as independent as possible. But we still want to help – it’s what we do. Home health is designed to make things easier for people to stay in their homes, rather than moving to an assisted living community or rehabilitation facility.
Though those places do offer higher degrees of comfort and care especially for someone unable to take care of themselves well. They also may be recommended by a provider if they need higher levels of care.
Reasons for not needing help
A big part of why many people are likely to refuse help, especially seniors, is simple control. There may be so many things in their life that are out of control – their health especially – so they may want to hang onto anything they can before it goes away too.
One easy example is the driver’s license. A senior may be advised that they might need to stop driving at some point and surrender their license if their abilities decrease to the point of safety concerns. They may understand the need to do so, but they don’t like it.
If they’re unable to drive any longer, they’ll still eagerly look for other things in their life that they are able to control.
For a senior living alone, there are all sorts of options for things they may want to control, things they can and should still try to control, and things that they maybe shouldn’t attempt.
When meeting a home health representative for the first time, it’s common to go over tasks that the agency can do and things the homeowner should continue tackling on their own.
Some of these make sense: let the professionals handle things that might be difficult to do, such as maintenance items like changing light bulbs. (Tasks like this are more like maintenance but still can impact a client’s health – dark spots increase tripping and falling hazards.)
Then, the client or caregiver can do other things that they can manage on their own, such as cooking their own meals under safe conditions.
To some clients, being able to do something, even if it’s something minor, can help with their peace of mind in a big way. The difficulties of their current situation may become tiring and even lead to depression if they don’t feel like they can do anything they used to.
Some ways seniors can be offered small tasks to keep everyone happy include:
- Light cleaning. Bending over to scrub the floor isn’t that great of an idea. But you can still do things like wipe down counters or tables. This has a hygiene purpose as well as an independent purpose. While a home care aide can handle the heavy stuff.
- Light cooking. Making lunch or a small dinner is a fine idea. Making a huge meal for a big crowd is less of a great idea unless he or she gets help (or take-out!)
- Light exercise. Some simple stretching could go a long way to building strength and flexibility. Some low-impact yoga might be soothing and relaxing. Letting the client take control too might be helpful.
- Create a list. Everyone needs a visible list of upcoming tasks. Having this list be at a central point where everyone sees it is a fine idea especially if multiple people live in the home. The client could be the ones in charge of writing items, removing their own, or changing theirs. This will also provide them with a sense of usefulness and responsibility.
- Give them lots of attention. Some of the feelings that eventually turn into anger, sadness, anxiety, or general depression started out small. If they’ve been stuck at home for so long, they may feel like no one talks to them. And the easiest solution is to find ways for them to connect, whether it’s something online like Facebook or Skype, or meeting neighbors for walks.
This is a great month to learn more: February is National Senior Independence Month, which is an opportunity for clients and caregivers to learn more about ways they can focus on different tasks and projects.