It is important to maintain a sense of independence for the caregiver and the caregiver's loved one.  This does require a deep level of involvement.  Daily routines need to be developed that include exercise, self-care, leisure activities, social groups, work, productive activities, rest time, and outings. And, you must be flexible to change!

Physical activity helps reduce the severity of illness, increases strength, and reduces the risk of falling.  Dancing can reduce high blood pressure, strengthen bones, lower the risk of heart disease, all the while providing a social outlet that stimulates the mind and can reduce the effects of dementia.  Activities such as gardening and housekeeping inspire positive self-esteem and improve quality of life.  Socializing with family and friends and attending parties or other events makes people feel less isolated and promotes good quality of life.  Mental stimulation helps keep the mind well, active, and sharp, and helps boost emotional function.  These type of activities will help the loved one feel more able to take care of self rather than depending on the caregiver for every daily task.  This will also help the caregiver take care of personal health.

Consider bringing in a professional for things such as identifying specific safety concerns for home modification, rehabilitation for mobility and functional loss, long term care needs, counseling, and support.  Caregiving should be interactive so that caretaking will promote physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being.  Such a deep involvement will give the caregiver and the loved one a sense of independence. This will help the loved one feel more independent and the caregiver will feel like they can do other tasks without as much worry.

by Nicole B., community educator