How Can I Protect Mom and Dad’s Dignity When I’m Caring for Them?
As our loved one’s age, they are faced with the realization of their own short-comings, and the loss of basic staples of life. It is a trying process where they often have to accept that one day they may be alone or unable to tend to their own needs. The loss of their independence and the need to depend on someone else can be a difficult blow to their pride.
When your patience reaches its peak and you are feeling frustrated, try to take a step back and reflect on the pride and dignity that is owed to your loved ones. The aging process can bring about joy and contentment, but it also can bring fear, anxiety, and loss of personal worth. They can often find themselves being fighting between dependence and independence.
Dignity and pride can be violated by physical interference (such as intruding into their private domain or physical harm) as well as emotional and psychological distress in the form of humiliation (such as exposing their bodies during intimate acts or procedures). Illness, disability, and frailty are often irreversible conditions of advancing age and can severely alter the identity of the elderly in terms of autonomy. When people can no longer care for themselves or move independently, they risk intrusion into the most private parts of their lives. The absence of these everyday experiences can lead to feelings of invisibility, shame, and degradation.
There are, however, some factors that can promote dignity and help to maintain pride, all of which contribute to the person’s sense of self-respect:
The Tone of Voice – It is common to revert to a parental role when you are caring for another. However, sometimes this can come across as condescending or even disrespectful. The last thing you want to do is make your elderly loved one feel like a child. Make sure to pay attention to your tone of voice and make sure you are talking to them instead of down to them.
Language – Pay attention to the actual words you are using. Are you using words that depict a baby-like state? Such as diaper or bib? Try to search for alternative words that you would use for an adult (padded underwear or apron)
Choice and Control – Enable your loved one to make choices about the way they live and the care they receive.
Pain Management – Ensure that if your loved one is living with pain, they have the right help to obtain the medication to reduce any type of suffering and improve their overall quality of life.
Privacy – Respect their personal space, privacy in personal care and confidentiality of personal information
Social Inclusion – Support them to keep in contact with family and friends and to participate in social activities
Feinberg Consulting can help bring in support systems for when the care of a loved one is becoming burdensome to your relationship. The aging process is difficult for all of us, but with a compassionate and caring advocate, your family can return to some sense of normal.
If you have questions about your unique situation, call us at 877-538-5425 and speak to one of our professionals. The call can be anonymous and is strictly confidential.