Our neighbours to the south refer to their July 4 as Independence Day. “Independence” is often defined as “free from outside control, not depending on another’s authority…”, and in the context of their historical dream to be a nation not governed by England, that definition seems very fitting. What I have discovered in providing care to seniors in their homes is that EVERY DAY is Independence Day!
For those of us with no physical or memory challenges, we don’t realize that every hour of our days is full of decision points. With little or no conscious thought we simply make the choice that we want, because we value our ability to make choices without being told by someone else what we are to do or how we are to do it. For seniors, the issue of independence comes up much more consciously, numerous times each day, in so many aspects of their lives. Each time they DON’T get to make their own choice, they feel a bit more shackled by the aging process, and feel they have lost another piece of what makes them unique and worthy. It is very tempting to quickly intervene and “do it for them”, but I suspect that is largely our own distress as caregivers that feels the need to do so, without first being sure that is what the senior most wants. Capable seniors are generally very willing to accept the consequences of their acting independently; allowing them to do so is one of the greatest gifts we can give them each day.