When you first learn that an older family member has a serious condition, like dementia or ALS, it can be difficult to wrap your head around. This can be especially true if you find yourself in the role of caregiver. For some caregivers, accepting that the senior has a chronic condition feels like defeat.
Not being able to accept the reality of the condition can be detrimental to the caregiver and the older adult. Below are some of the benefits of acceptance.
Acceptance Improves Preparedness
Not accepting a condition may cause caregivers to put blinders on and not see the ways the older adult’s situation will change as their health worsens. This can cause them to be unprepared for changing care needs and a ramping up of the time involved. When a caregiver accepts the condition, they can begin to learn more about it and what to expect in the future, enabling them to do things like contacting home care agencies to plan for future care.
Acceptance Allows for Better Disease Management
Many conditions require changes to lifestyle and having certain tools or medications on hand. For example, a senior with diabetes needs to change the way they eat. If the caregiver does not accept that they have a chronic condition, they may prepare foods that fall within the parameters of the food plan suggested by the senior’s health care team. Or, the caregiver of a senior with COPD may fail to carry a rescue inhaler when they go on an outing with the senior.
Acceptance Can Mean Active Involvement in Treatment
Once a caregiver accepts that their loved one has a chronic condition, they can become actively involved in the older adult’s treatment plan and care. They can attend medical appointments and learn how they can help to manage the senior’s health. The caregiver can also take active steps at home to improve the senior’s health and quality of life so that they can continue to enjoy life for as long as possible.
Acceptance Gives the Senior Permission to Express Emotions
When caregivers are unfailingly cheerful and refuse to admit they feel worried, sad, or even angry, their older family member may think they also cannot express negative emotions. It can be stressful to suppress feelings and it really isn’t healthy. When a caregiver can say that they feel sad about what is happening to the older adult, it gives the senior permission to say that they are sad, too. Sharing these feelings can make them less of a burden for both the caregiver and the senior.