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It’s a happy day when your loved one returns home from the hospital or a rehab facility. But often times, that happiness can be eclipsed by your loved one’s fear at the changes illness or injury can bring, and your worry and need to protect your loved one.
You might be inclined to do as much as you can for your loved one, either to meet your need to help or because your loved one is willing to let you, but this can actually hinder recovery, and can even lead to resentment on your end.
How can you strike the right balance? Geriatric care expert Marion Somers, Ph.D., offers this advice.
Relinquish some control. The more you hover, the less motivated your loved one becomes. Try saying, “I’m here to help you, but I need you to tell me when you need more independence and when you need assistance,” and you’ll put the ball in your loved one’s court. Studies show that empowering elders can have a positive impact on their motivation.
Inspire activity. “It can be extremely difficult to continue with rehab after returning home,” says Somers. “Your loved one no longer has the stimulation and encouragement from nurses and professionals.” Maintain momentum by infusing some fun. Schedule rehab time around your loved one’s favorite TV show, or ask if you can join in with the exercises. Keeping the activities enjoyable helps your loved one to visualize his or her goal.
Manage expectations. “Healing must come as naturally as a flower unfolding. You can’t rush it,” says Somers. “Encourage your loved one to do what he or she can.” If your loved one can only do three reps and is supposed to do ten, focus on the accomplishment. “If you voice your concern, or if they get upset, it deters healing,” says Somers.
Set short-term goals. Every day, every week, set a small rehab goal. Focusing on the end goal can be discouraging. According to a study in the Archives of Medical Rehabilitation, obtaining goals inspires confidence. If your loved one doesn’t seem able to complete the recommended exercises, check with the doctor or therapist about tweaking the routine.
To find out VNSNY can help you care for a family member or loved one, please call 1-800-675-0391.