Simple Ways You Can Help Your Parent Maintain Independence through Decision-Making
Simply because your aging parent is dealing with Alzheimer’s disease does not mean that they do not still deserve respect and dignity. Expressing independence, individuality, and autonomy are important ways of maintaining this respect and protecting your parent’s health and wellbeing even as they progress through the disease. While it can be challenging, particularly for those seniors who are already at moderate to advanced stages of the disease, supporting decision-making throughout their day can make a tremendous difference in their quality of life and help to preserve their memory and cognitive skills for longer. By simplifying basic decisions and being patient, continuing to express independence and individuality can be something that your parent can do with your support or with the help of an elder care provider.
Some simple ways that you or an elderly home care services provider can help your parent maintain independence and self-expression through decision-making include:
- Clothing. One of the most basic forms of expression is the clothing that a person chooses to wear each day. When that is taken away from a senior it can feel as though they are losing their grasp on what makes them “them”. Even if they are unable to express it verbally, this can lead to depression, anxiety, and even greater feelings of confusion. Put together two complete outfits that are appropriate for the day’s weather and activities and present them to your loved one. Encourage them to select the one that they like the most for that day.
- Eating. While meal and snack times should often be structured so that they are more predictable for your loved one and so that you can better gauge their appetite and nutritional intake, what they eat does not necessarily need to be so precise. Come up with two different meal plans for the day and give your parent options when it comes to each meal or snack. For optimal nutritional benefit, try to keep each meal or snack within the same general calorie count and nutritional value. That way whichever choice your parent makes you can feel confident that they are getting what they need.
- Activities. Staying active is as important for a senior who is progressing through Alzheimer’s disease as it is for healthier seniors. You can make selecting what your parent wants to do an activity in of itself simply by letting your loved one choose. This gives them the benefit not only of being able to make a decision for their own life, but also enables them to select the activity that best expresses how they are feeling or what they are dealing with that day. For seniors who have lost much of their ability to communicate, being able to select an activity that they feel will express their thoughts, feelings, or needs can be extremely impactful. Make these decisions accessible by maintaining an organized activity center within your loved one’s home and present larger categories as their first decision rather than specific things. For example, as if they want to do a craft or play a game, and then narrow the choices from there.