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WebSideStory Pick of the Week! 3/16/98

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Senior Housing Net
    JULY 7, 2000
    Maintaining Independence For The Care-recipient And Yourself
    By: Gail R Mitchell
    One of the most important issues you will face as a 
    caregiver is helping the one you care for to remain as 
    independent as possible while remaining independent 
    If the individual you care for is in danger of losing their 
    autonomy as a result of their dependency on you in order 
    to have certain needs met, there will definitely be a sense 
    of loss. It may result in a loss of self-esteem or confidence; 
    perhaps even a loss of purpose or reason for living. We are 
    conditioned to believe that we should be able to take care 
    of ourselves forever. What happens when we are forced to 
    become dependent on someone else in order to have our 
    needs met?
    As a caregiver, you may also lose a sense of your self, while 
    living your life caring for your loved one. Caregivers who 
    experience feelings of "isolation" is one of the most alarming 
    statistics faced by those caring 24/7 for a loved one. 
    Depression as well as low self-esteem takes over when one 
    feels alone in this role.
    In most cases, it is up to the caregiver to create the give 
    and take in the relationship with the care-recipient. It 
    involves creating a delicate balance between control and 
    dependency. Your focus should be on maintaining as much 
    freedom and dependency for all concerned parties.
    Maintaining independence for the care-recipient:
    ·Strive to create an environment with respect and dignity.
    ·Encourage the one you care for on the importance of 
     maintaining their independency.
    ·Encourage them to engage in hobbies and activities, 
     which they enjoy.
    ·Encourage ways to keep their minds functioning and alert.
    ·Find adaptive measures to help your loved one remain 
     independent. Some examples are home modification, 
     replacing buttons and zippers with Velcro where possible, 
     adapting living areas to prevent falls, etc.
    ·Arrange for activities outside the home at senior centers, 
     childcare centers, or even respite centers. 
    ·Arrange for relatives, friends and volunteers to visit and 
     spend time, as well as taking your loved one shopping, 
     day trips, etc. Socializing outside the relationship with 
     the caregiver is very important.
    ·Take time for yourself each day to do something for 
     yourself that you enjoy doing is essential for the 
     caregiver in providing optimum care to the care-recipient.
    Maintaining independence for the caregiver:
    ·Partake in daily exercise in your home, take a walk, 
     or engage in a sport that you love.
    ·Take time to nurture yourself daily: i.e., hot baths, 
     meditate, write in a journal, and read books you enjoy.
    ·Socialize with friends. Go out shopping, go for coffee, 
     go  to a movie, or any other interest that will keep you 
     in touch with the outside world.
    ·Develop a hobby or take on part time work.
    ·Participate in activities that take your mind completely 
     off caring for your loved one for a set period of time 
     each day.
    ·Seek out support groups both on and offline that help 
     you to maintain your independence.  Work through 
     issues that may keep you isolated and trapped in your 
     role as a caregiver.
    In terms of control on behalf of both the care-recipient and 
    caregiver it is important to learn how to say “no” and set 
    boundaries. The person you are caring for may be caught 
    up in their situation and making many demands which will 
    conflict with other important things you must do during 
    the day. By explaining to them the importance of 
    communication, you will both maintain more autonomy.
    If your loved one refuses to let outside help come in, you 
    will have to assert yourself more, while respecting your 
    loved one's needs - yours still must be met first. If you 
    breakdown and are no longer capable of caring for them, 
    who will be? There is a fine line in which to set these 
    boundaries. You must find the one that will work best 
    for the highest good of all concerned. In the case of 
    a parent vs. and adult child, the attempts to control 
    one another can be devastating - so proceed with 
    care. Either individual may use manipulation in an 
    attempt to cause guilt in the other. Neither should 
    provoke the other to the extent that the results 
    produced are not harmonious or beneficial to either 
    one. If the situation becomes emotionally or physically 
    abusive, then you must rely on the services of a 
    professional to assist you in resolving the issues at 
    As the primary caregiver for your loved one, it is up 
    to you to initiate this important balance.
    We look forward to the opportunity 
    of serving you. We welcome your 
    comments, suggestions, and questions. 
    Please feel free to contact us at: or

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