Taking Care of the Elderly: Combat Their Feeling of Helplessness

Helplessness - Desperate Old Man


Aging is challenging. Imagine feeling your body physically and very slowly deteriorates. Imagine that you can sense your mind slipping at times, losing its touch. Debatably, this feeling of helplessness is what most of our beloved seniors have.

Finding no way out of graceful aging can be easy to resign to the cruel hands of time. It is effortless to succumb to that feeling of helplessness. But no one wants to see their loved ones feeling helpless. With the proper care and attention, you can help combat the dreadful feeling of helplessness your elderly loved ones may feel..

This Feeling of Helplessness is Learned

Psychologists first discovered the type of helplessness that is learned in 1967. That is the type of helplessness our seniors may feel. Medical News Today defines learned helplessness as: “a state that occurs after a person has experienced a stressful situation repeatedly. They come to believe that they are unable to control or change the situation, so they do not try – even when opportunities for change become available.”

In other words, learned helplessness occurs when you accept that you can’t escape an undesirable situation, to the point that you no longer try when opportunities for escape present themselves.

Most of the time, this is what our seniors feel. Their body and mind become weaker. They are not as strong as they used to be. They no longer have that steel trap of a memory that they had in their prime. And through the years, they learn to accept that there is no way out of their worsening situation.

Learned helplessness is more common to seniors who suffer higher degrees of physical, mental, social or even emotional fragility.

There is a Way Out of Learned Helplessness

Upon learning that they can’t escape the effects of aging, our seniors lose the motivation to try combating it. Learned helplessness blinds a person to the opportunities to improve their situation. Now, this is where providing care comes in.

As someone who deeply cares for your elderly, you have to take the initiative to help them see what they can’t see for themselves. There are a lot of causes that factor into the feeling of helplessness seniors learn over time. These are the causes that you have to address if you want to combat their sense of helplessness.

For example, one of the primary causes of helplessness among the elderly is their weakening body. They can’t do the necessary activities like bathing or personal grooming. One of the unique services that Infinite Love Homecare provides is grooming and hygiene assistance.

You might be thinking: “Wouldn’t that increase the sense of helplessness in seniors, having some random stranger do basic grooming for them?” No, because the goal is not to do everything for the elderly. It is to teach the elderly how to do those things themselves in the safest possible way.

Creating an Optimistic Environment

At its core, learned helplessness is caused by looking at situations with a negative perspective. Therefore it makes sense that adapting a positive outlook in life is an effective way to combat the feeling of helplessness.

Did you know that professional elderly care specialists are trained to add a splash of positive color to the lives of the elders under their care? Just look at the testimonials we receive at Infinite Love Homecare. Here are a few examples example:

“…The caregiver they sent was so caring and kind…”

“…My mother was comfortable with the caregivers…”

“My family is so grateful for the professional and loving care that my mom received from Infinite Love Homecare.”

One of the primary services that elderly home care specialists have is providing compassionate comfort even in extremely uncomfortable situations. It means providing a loving companionship that addresses the physical, social, emotional, and even the spiritual needs of the senior.

Of course, no one can provide a more favorable environment for your senior loved ones other than you. After all, you know them best. But it can be hard to take care of the elderly at all times when you have to take care of other things in your life. Hiring competent, professional, and compassionate elderly home care specialists goes a long way in creating a lively environment. In the long run, that helps you combat the sense of helplessness your beloved senior is feeling.

Help Them Remain Active

Old Couple in Nature

Not having an active role in their aging process is hard for our seniors. It intensifies that feeling of helplessness. As you take charge of the care for your senior parents, relatives, or even just friends, it is highly critical that you help them realize that their lives are not entirely in your control.

Make them see that they are ultimately in control of their lives. Make them a part of the decisions. There are cases where the elderly refuse in-home medical assistance. In such cases, you mustn’t force them. Just explain to them that YOU need assistance, not them. Make them see that the aid is to help YOU take care of them.

Just keep in mind that ultimately, the decision is theirs, unless they can no longer decide for themselves.

Aside from helping them remain active by integrating them in the decision making, you can also try allowing them to stay active physically and socially. These two are yet other examples of life aspects that elderly care professionals use to help the seniors.

The companionship, an elderly home-care partner, can help fill the social needs of a senior. There are also indoor and outdoor activities which a home-care specialist can do with your elderly parents. Activities such as picnics, fun games, light gardening, or bird watching are stimulating enough to erase the mundane routine, yet not too challenging to stress seniors.

Ultimately, Shower the Seniors with Love

The psychology of learned helplessness and how to combat it may be hard to comprehend. But ultimately, the key is to shower your beloved seniors with love. Empathize with how they feel. Talk to them with a more understanding approach. Hear them out. Do fun activities with them. And during the times when you can’t do these things due to other concerns in your life, find someone who can do these things with your elderly parents.

Hire us today for competent and compassionate in-home elderly care and companionship. We also offer consultation services. Please call our Infinite Love Homecare team at (949) 529-4130 or visit our services page.

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