As we age, it becomes more and more difficult for us to complete tasks. At first, knee pain may make it difficult to do anything that requires climbing up a ladder. This means a person may need some help cleaning the gutters or changing light bulbs. As they continue to get older and develop more health issues, they may need assistance vacuuming, doing laundry, and driving. Eventually, they may need someone to help them bathe or get dressed.

While elderly home care experts are there to help aging individuals with these tasks, you still want to make certain that your loved one is treated with respect and that they have as much autonomy as possible. People don’t want to be fully dependent on others, especially those who have lived on their own for years and are used to doing everything. 

What can you do to ensure that your loved one maintains their dignity and autonomy while receiving the elderly home care they need? Here are some tips from the experts here at Reliant Home Care Services. 

a dictionary entry explaining "autonomy"


Why is Autonomy Important?

When your loved one starts needing home care, your first instinct may be to have helpers take over everything. Your loved one has lived a full life, and now they deserve to be treated like royalty, right? While that’s a very sweet thought, it’s not what everyone wants. Some people may be perfectly fine with giving over most of their daily chores to relatives and professional care providers, but some may not. 

To these people, being waited on hand and foot gets old very quickly. Some may feel like they’re useless. They see themselves as burdens because someone else is doing everything for them. These individuals were often caregivers themselves or were used to taking care of everyone. They don’t transition well into doing nothing. To them, giving up all of their daily tasks isn’t freedom or a reward; it’s a reminder that they aren’t as capable as they once were.

Others may have a very particular way of doing things. They may want the dishes washed in a specific way or want to personally clean their collectibles. It’s not that they don’t trust others or think that no one can do what they do. However, they have this very set routine for doing these tasks that others won’t get right away. These individuals want to handle things themselves so they know the tasks are done exactly the way they want. Having others take over these chores can cause anxiety and irritation. 

No matter why someone wants their autonomy, taking it away typically has negative results. Your loved one may start to feel depressed, infantized, angry, annoyed, and overall unhappy with the situation. They can become combative or passive-aggressive towards both helpful friends and family and care providers you’ve hired. This doesn’t help them at all. Their blood pressure and other vitals can end up in the high range, and they may willingly start defying their doctor’s orders or their own safety.


Discuss What Your Loved One Can Do Safely

One of the things you should do when first considering elderly home care is sit down with your loved one and talk about it. Don’t surprise them with a home care professional or a schedule of family helpers. The very first step to preserving your loved one’s dignity is to include them in all of the decisions and discussions regarding their care. They have a right to make decisions if they’re able to. If their mental capabilities have declined, of course, then you may have to make decisions on their behalf. However, that should only be done when your loved one is no longer able to consider options and make decisions on their own.

Even if you’re not bringing in home care professionals yet, you still need to talk to your loved one about their health and the limitations they may be facing. If they’re a little unsteady on their feet, talk to them about tasks they should delegate to others. However, don’t immediately try to take away everything from them. They may still be able to cook for themselves since they have the counter to steady them if they need it. They may just want to avoid using the stepstool or doing anything outdoors when it’s icy. 

Ask your loved one what they feel capable of doing and what they want to do. In some cases, you may have to compromise. Remind them that their safety is paramount and that if they can’t do something without risk of falling or hurting themselves, they shouldn’t. As mentioned earlier, maybe your loved one has specific collectibles they do not trust anyone else with cleaning, but they can’t easily stand and reach these items. The compromise here is that you take the items from the shelves to the table where your loved one can clean them. 

Remember that even those who have disabilities or who use a wheelchair more often than not can still do some basic tasks. Don’t assume they need someone to do everything or you may find yourself in a recurring argument. 


There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Care

Every person and situation is different. While people who have the same diseases or physical limitations may need similar care, they may not need the exact same type of support. Your loved one is an individual, and all care plans should be tailored to their specific needs. Again, this involves communication. You and your loved one need to communicate all special needs and requests to care providers so they know what to expect. It’s important that they understand what your loved one needs and what boundaries they have. 

In fact, these boundaries are also very important for both you and your loved one. It’s hard to maintain your dignity if others don’t respect your boundaries or privacy. Make certain any family, friends, or caregivers know what areas of the home they are allowed in and what areas should be considered off-limits. If your loved one doesn’t need help getting out of bed or getting dressed, they may not want others to go into their bedroom. If they’re able to go to the bathroom unaided, they may not want anyone hovering near the door or trying to assist them. Of course, if they’re a fall risk, you will need to discuss that and come to an agreement that preserves their dignity while also ensuring their safety.

a group of seniors sitting in a restaurant together


Let Your Loved One Make Choices

Even if your loved one is no longer able to make major life decisions about their care or their housing, they may still be capable of making small, daily choices. Let them select what clothes they want to wear that day or what they want to eat for lunch as long as their choice fits within any dietary restrictions they’re on. Let them decide if they want to watch TV, read a book, or sit outdoors and enjoy the day. These decisions allow them to feel some measure of control over their life, and that will help them avoid falling into depression. 

You should also let them have some choice in which family and friends come to help them. In some cases, there may be little or no options—if only one person can cover certain hours, they may have to. However, if your loved one really dislikes this family member or acquaintance and doesn’t want to spend time with them, try to find a workaround. Remember, if your loved one isn’t able to drive or isn’t very mobile, you’re essentially trapping them with this person for hours. 

When faced with this type of situation, you can always reach out to Reliant for respite care. Our respite care professionals can step in for a few hours as needed to make sure someone is with your loved one when you can’t be. We treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve. Of course, if your loved one does find some reason to want a different care provider, all you have to do is let us know. They should always feel comfortable in their own home and with the guests they have in it. 


What Reliant Home Care Services Can Do for You

If you and your loved one agree it’s time to start learning more about home care, Reliant is here to answer any questions you may have. When you sit down with our care coordinator, you’ll discuss everything your loved one needs and how Reliant can meet those needs. We will help you determine what changes your loved one’s home may need to make it safer so they can continue to live there for as long as possible, what your family can do to help your loved one, and what you need our skilled care providers to handle. 

You can set up regular visits with a care provider, or you can let us know when you will need someone to visit your loved one. Either way, our team is here to help your loved one in such a way that preserves their dignity and as much autonomy as possible while making certain they’re cared for. Reach out today to learn more.