Seniors face many transitions. For those who have been independent for a long time, an increased need for assistance and support can be especially challenging. It’s important to ease seniors’ transitions.
Types of Transitions Seniors Face
Some transitions seniors face are obvious, like an illness, hearing loss, or a medical event. However, subtler, equally difficult transitions can also come with decreasing independence.
Types of transitions include:
• Loss of privacy as others are more involved in care
• Needing to ask for help getting places
• Inconveniencing others by asking for support
• Inability to participate in hobbies or activities
• Reliance on others to remember things and make decisions
• Difficulty keeping track of important information and memories
• Grief as peers move to care facilities or pass away
• Having less control over diet and schedule
• Depending on strangers if professional caregiving is needed
Top Tips for Supporting Seniors in Transition
As seniors face transitions related to aging, they may experience a variety of feelings, including grief, depression, and anxiety. Many seniors who become dependent also face feelings of guilt or failure.
Help seniors through transitions by:
• Extending as much autonomy as is safe and healthy
• Including seniors in conversations about care plans and their preferences
• Easing them into the idea of having someone help them—start out with smaller tasks for short periods of time
• Provide reasons like the concern of loved ones or a desire to cover housekeeping for them
• Pointing to an authority, like a doctor’s recommendations
• Listening patiently to seniors’ concerns and preferences
Conversations about transitions through aging can be painful for seniors and their loved ones. Remind seniors that you want the best for them and that their lives are meaningful.
Home Care Tip
As seniors begin to receive home care services, it is important to include them in the conversation. It can also be helpful and reassuring to show them portals or other tools that allow their loved ones to be involved in their care, even from afar.
Try these strategies for starting difficult conversations with seniors:
• Do your homework so you can offer encouragement and real options
• Ask questions with observations (i.e. “How’s the house? It must be hard to keep up.”)
• Offer practical help, like finding a housekeeper, to ease seniors into receiving support
• Don’t cut seniors out of conversations or decisions
Transitions are challenging for everyone! Supporting seniors through transition can be easier with some planning and preparation.