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Being a Care Partner | Making life easier in a collaborative way

Living with different abilities in a world that's not accessible can be challenging. And when you're involved in a person's life who has challenges, you might feel helpless or unsure of how you can lend a hand. The good news is that being in their inner circle means you have plenty of opportunities to promote independence and also be supportive.

 

We're advocates for reframing the term family caregiver as being a care partner. Partnership reflects the goal of working together rather than providing something to someone, passively or maybe without their input. As occupational therapists, we provide a supportive environment for clients/individuals/patients to reach their own goals.

 

I've noticed some of the best outcomes are when the person feels capable of doing a bit of work to achieve the goal instead of feeling like a caregiver is burdened by needing to provide help.
Semantics? No. It's truly the difference between thriving and declining, for you and your person! So here's some actionable ways you can be a care partner that we love.

 Caring for an older adult often requires a balance between providing support and respecting their independence. As a care partner, your role isn't only to help with daily tasks, but also to empower them to maintain as much independence as possible. Here are some actionable steps to make sure that your support is both effective and empowering.

Understand Their Abilities and Limitations

Take the time to understand the specific abilities and limitations of the person you're caring for. This insight allows you to tailor your support in a way that maximizes their independence. For example, if they have limited mobility but good cognitive function, focus on physical assistance while encouraging them to make their own decisions.

Promote Safe Mobility

Many older adults face mobility challenges. To promote safe and independent movement:

  • Install grab bars in key areas like the bathroom.
  • Provide clear pathways free of trip hazards.
  • Consider adaptive tools like walkers or canes.
  • Encourage regular exercise to maintain strength and balance.

Simplify Daily Tasks

Simplifying daily tasks can significantly boost independence. Here are a few ways to do it:

Leverage Technology

Technology can be a great ally in supporting independence:

Foster Social Connections

Social connections are vital for mental health. Encourage participation in community activities or facilitate video calls with family and friends. Respecting their social life is a crucial aspect of supporting their overall well-being.

Encourage Regular Health Check-ups

Regular health check-ups are essential. Support them in managing appointments and medications but allow them to discuss their health directly with their healthcare provider.

Support Cognitive Health

Keep their mind active with engaging activities like puzzles, reading, or hobbies that stimulate the brain. This not only enhances cognitive function but also promotes a sense of achievement.

Respect Their Autonomy

Always remember that being a care partner means working collaboratively:

  • Ask before helping to avoid overstepping.
  • Listen to their preferences and include them in decision-making.
  • Respect their privacy and dignity in all aspects of care.

Create a Routine

Establishing a routine can provide a sense of stability and control. Work together to create a daily schedule that balances activities, rest, and social interactions.

Educate Yourself

Lastly, educate yourself about their specific needs. Whether it's understanding a medical condition or learning how to use an adaptive device, your knowledge can greatly enhance the quality of care you provide.

Being a care partner is about collaboration, respect, and empowerment. By implementing these steps, you can make life easier for the older adult you care for, fostering an environment where they feel supported yet independent. Remember, the ultimate goal is to enhance their quality of life in a respectful and dignified manner.

If you'd like some help we're here for you! Schedule a virtual visit and have an occupational therapist help you through some solutions!

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Dr. Brandy Archie, OTR/L, CLIPP

Dr. Archie received her doctorate in occupational therapy from Creighton University. She is certified in both Living in Place and Low Vision Therapy.  Dr. Archie has over 15 years of experience in home health and elder focused practice settings which led her to start AskSAMIE, a curated marketplace to make aging in place possible for anyone, anywhere! Answer some questions about the problems the person is having and then a personalized cart of adaptive equipment and resources is provided.

She's a wife, mother of 3 and a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan! Connect with her on Linked In or by email anytime.

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