Helping Elderly Parents Make Decisions

December 16, 2018
Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
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One of your most important priorities as a family caregiver providing home care services is to help your aging loved one maintain better mental and emotional health throughout their later years.

Independence is important for all age groups, but when it comes to elderly adults, it can make a tremendous difference in their ability to live a comfortable, healthy, safe, and fulfilling quality of life as they age in place.

The challenges and limitations that your aging parent might be experiencing during their later years diminish their independence, which can result in a wide variety of negative complications, including depression, anxiety, and loss of motivation. Even those who are dealing with advanced difficulties can still express their independence and autonomy when given the opportunity.

One of the best ways to grant your parent this opportunity is by encouraging them to make decisions for themselves on a daily basis.

3 Tips for Helping Seniors Make Decisions

Use these tips to help you encourage your aging parent to make decisions daily.

1. Be Specific

Particularly if your aging parent is coping with limitations and challenges to their cognitive functioning, it is important not to be too vague or broad with the decisions that you want them to make. This can be confusing or overwhelming to them, making them feel even less independent and capable of controlling their own lives.

Instead, give them specific decisions to make so that their thoughts are guided for easier decision-making. For example, rather than asking “What do you want to do today?” ask “Would you like to do a craft today?”

2. Limit Options

Giving your parent too many options when making a decision can be upsetting and confusing. They might not be able to make the decision or get overwhelmed and not want to make one at all.

Instead, offer them two or three options to choose from. This lets them focus their attention on these options and make the decision with more confidence.

For example, show your parent two shirts and let them select between them rather than showing them the entire closet and letting them choose.

When handling a multi-step issue, such as getting dressed, break it down into several steps rather than having them make all of the decisions at once. Have them choose their shirt, then offer pants or skirts that go with that top and let them choose, and then offer shoes that go with those two pieces and let them choose.

3. Give Complete Options

Set your parent up for decision-making success by giving complete options. This can not only help them to feel the sense of accomplishment and importance of making a good decision that influences how their day goes, but it also helps to avoid the confusion and poor judgment that is common among elderly adults who are dealing with cognitive functioning decline.

For example, when encouraging your aging loved one to decide on what type of activity they would like to do that day, give them full information. Let them choose between “going bowling at the bowling alley and having lunch at their favorite restaurant” or “having breakfast out and then going to see a movie” rather than “doing something and then having lunch” or “having breakfast and then doing something”.

Contact Care Options for Kids for Home Care Services

If you or an aging loved one are considering home care services, contact the caring staff at Care Options for Kids. Call today (888) 592-5855.