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Helping your loved one function at their prime independent level (the level that is safe for him) is something you need to be actively and intentionally involved in. This may sound like an odd statement, but let me explain.
Your loved one has limitations for sure. He may even have a degenerative disease. But he needs to have his own independence. As your loved one is recovering, he will be regaining strength after the hospital. He will get to a point where he has his strength back or is getting there. If you have a tendency to hover, he hasn’t minded. He still may not mind. But you are not helping him if you hover and do for him the things he can do for himself. In Rehab, we were told not to do anything for a patient that they could do for themselves! It is a wise way to think.In order to maintain independence, do not do for him things he can do for himself. Click To Tweet
Encourage him to be as independent as safely possible. It is a gift you give him.
Yes, he needs help and assistance. But he doesn’t need to be treated as helpless or as an invalid who more helpless than he is. At some point, he will resent you, even if he isn’t able to verbalize why! It may take him longer to do the things he can do. It may be easier for you to do it yourself. But don’t give in to the temptation to do it quickly yourself! He needs to be as independent as possible.
It’s true he may get angry with you if you push him a bit to do things he doesn’t want to do, but the long-term result will be more positive. If he is able, he can get himself a glass of water during the day. It may take a little longer, but he can do it. Did he used to help with household chores before? Which ones can he still help with? Is he able to dress himself? Then don’t help him dress, even it takes him longer. You get the idea.
There may be other ways she can contribute to the household. You are busy. You might give her a choice of some household duties. Can she help fold laundry? Do part of the kitchen prep? Play board games with the kids while you are doing something else? Listen to children read aloud? It’s hard to break down jobs in your mind and hand over parts of them so another person can feel independent…but if you can think of it as a gift you are giving them, it might help.
Give them opportunities to reach out to others
Do they use a computer? They can email friends and family to keep up and reach out to them. Do they have friends they can talk to on the phone? Encourage them to keep up with friends and family on the phone; to encourage friends who may be having health issues like they are. Have you ever noticed that if you can focus on others, it helps you take the focus off yourself and your problems? It works that way for them too. It is part of their independence! They need to have as wide a world as possible for as long as possible. It may be meeting up during the week for coffee or lunch with local friends. It may be a small group Bible study or Sunday School class. It may be a day of the week when he participates with a group in his hobby or time at the library. It will take time to figure it all out, but any opportunities they have for outreach will help them.
And if they aren’t able to get out, encourage others to come to them…in order to encourage both them and you!Have you ever noticed that if you can focus on others, it helps you take the focus off yourself and your problems? Click To Tweet
Another story from my childhood on this topic
During my childhood, my greataunt lived with my grandmother. She was born with cerebral palsy and when her mother died (about the time I was born) Aunt Emma came to live with my grandparents. By the time I remember her, she walked with two canes. I think she was bright, but in those days, someone who was handicapped in that way was usually not out in the community. The CP affected her speech and of course, her ability to ambulate. She was always working on a puzzle, making potholders on a loom, and sometimes matched the socks from the laundry but otherwise had very few responsibilities in the household. She also made her bed each morning.
She was never taken out to church or to any activities. Occasionally, she was taken for a ride to see Christmas lights or something, but usually, she was home. My grandmother was busy all the time! She was busy at church, often caring for us, and into all kinds of activities. But Aunt Emma just sat.
As I look back from the perspective of rehab, I think how sad it is that she wasn’t able to get out more and do more. She could have had much more to do in the house like she did in her mother’s home. If public places had been as handicapped-friendly as they are now, she would have actually had a social life!
Eventually, she was unable to get up on her own and went into a nursing home. She got some rehab there and had a variety of people with whom she could now interact. I think those years in the nursing home may have been more interesting for her than the years in my grandmother’s home where she was sort of invisible.
All that was to say that the less stimulation a person has, the less drive they will have to grow and expand. There will be some deterioration of your loved one’s body, mind, and motivation. If they have a condition that is degenerative, it will be that much worse!