Maintaining Respect and Dignity in Home Care

October 30, 2020 | BY PHS Staff


As a caregiver, it’s easy to take on a “protective” role when caring for someone you love. It’s natural, after all, to want to help someone who is having difficulty in everyday tasks. But unless your loved one, such as a parent or spouse, is experiencing some kind of cognitive failure (brain damage due to stroke, dementia, or other health problems), they can still make decisions about their lives, and to the extent possible, you should let them.

It can be difficult for you as a caregiver to watch your loved one struggle with a task, or insist on doing it their way – much in the same way it’s hard to watch your toddler try to do things for themselves when you may know better. Keep yourself in check to guard against overprotection, which can quickly morph into a sense you may be belittling your loved one – even if you’re unaware you’re doing it.

Maintaining dignity and respect is a big part of aging. Your parent or spouse has already lost so much, from the loss of freedom of driving themselves to the store, even to the loss of bathing themselves. Adjust your expectations, let them do what they are able to do, and above all, maintain a sense of dignity and grace in all interactions.

After all, one of the most important human needs is the desire for respect and dignity, and that need doesn’t simply change just because a person becomes old, disabled or ill. In fact, it may even grow stronger.

There are many things you can do as a caregiver to ensure your loved one receives the respect and dignity they deserve. Hiring in-home care in Gettysburg is a step in the right direction, as skilled caregivers such as those at Preferred HealthStaff, put great care into preserving dignity as part of personal assistance services such as bathing and dressing.

Here are some ways you can respect your loved one’s privacy, right to make their own choices, and basic human dignity.

Respect Privacy, Physically and Emotionally

  • Close the door when helping your loved one dress or use the bathroom.
  • Knock before opening up a closed door.
  • Refrain from discussing confidential information with other people, even family members, without your loved one’s express permission.

Respect Their Right to Make Choices

  • Let your loved one decide what and when to eat, for example, if they are able. Remember, by making choices, even small ones, we gain a sense of control over our lives.
  • Offer choices of what to eat, when to eat, and what to wear, if cognitive problems are present.
  • If a choice seems unimportant or silly to you, try to understand why it may be important to your loved one.
  • If they refuse to take their medication or make other choices that could be dangerous, negotiate possible solutions. Perhaps you could offer pills with a favorite snack, agree to give a bath only as is necessary, and arrange for senior care services to help with companionship, such as taking walks with them when you cannot.

Treat Them With Dignity

  • Listen to your loved one’s concerns.
  • Ask for their opinions and let them know they’re important to you.
  • Involve them in as many decisions as possible.
  • Include them in conversation. Refrain from talking about them as though they are not there.
  • Speak to them as an adult, even if you are unsure how much they understand.

In the end, always remember that aging should not strip people of their dignity. When rights and dignities are removed, people can be rendered less than adult, says Aging Care. Anxiety over our elderly loved ones’ safety can transform adult children into dictators. The result? Those adult children perceive their elderly parents as displaying stubborn or reactive behavior. Instead, be aware of the needs of your aging parents. Offer to help with heavy duty chores, for example, but let them direct you.

Don’t take over simple tasks they can easily handle. Step in when needed for safety reasons, but other than that, hang back, let them be as independent as possible, don’t speak to them as if they were your children, and watch out for your natural tendency to take charge. It’s very easy to tell them we know best, not because we are on a power trip, but because we are afraid for their health and safety.

Let them live with the highest levels of dignity, grace and respect as possible. Your relationship – and their quality of life – will be much better off for it.

Contact Preferred HealthStaff

Here at Preferred HealthStaff, we place a great emphasis on maintaining dignity and respect for our elderly clients. To learn more about how our senior home care in Gettysburg puts your senior’s independence first, please contact us toll free at 866-943-9791 or in Fairfield 717-642-8500.