As a caregiver, it’s easy to jump in and do everything your loved one needs.
But jumping in and doing too much can create its own set of problems.
For example, if you’re mother has mild dementia, you might assume taking over many of the household duties will help her out. Cooking dinner several nights a week, straightening out her living area, even helping her plan out her days can seem like a good idea. You’re a loving daughter, and you want her to stay as independent as possible for as long as she can.
She sees it as interference. You’re in her personal life, and she doesn’t like it.
And she lets you know it.
How do you find balance? You know without help, she could never remain on her own. Yet helping her too much causes stress on your relationship. Where do you draw the line?
Don’t Jump In Too Quickly
Our natural instinct is to jump in and help. If we see a situation, especially when it involves someone we love, we like to do what we can. Remember this is your parent; a fully capable adult. She’s been doing it on her own for decades. Instead of helping, observe her behavior instead. Confirm where the difficulties really lie. If you have siblings, bring them in as allies and get their opinions too. “Have you noticed mom doing …” can be a great way to bring them into the conversation.
Instead Of Doing, Talk
Before you jump in and help, talk instead. Even before she needs help, it can be of benefit to sit down and talk about her wishes. This helps put her in control. This helps her give ideas on how she’d like to move forward. It can also help to make a plan. Even a few simple notes can help you approach the subject again in the future: “Do you remember when you said you’d prefer …” is a great way to bring up ideas again when she needs it most. Talk about supporting her, not doing it for her.
Put The Focus On What She Can Do
So much of caregiving is calling out what your loved one can no longer do on their own. Instead, focus on the things she can do. Push her towards things that fit her capabilities. If she loved to read and no longer can, try audio books. If she can no longer cook on her own, let her select her favorite meals and chop, stir, or even set the table.
Caregiving is an ebb and flow relationship. It’s about learning how to become her support system without taking over her life. If you approach it as support instead of taking over, she can adjust in her own time.