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
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
·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:
Boomers' Caregiver's Main Page
Boomers' Caregiver's Articles
Gail's Web Site :
Welcome to Boomers International.