Family members and caregivers often find it difficult to cope with the clinginess of the elderly. While some seniors desperately seek their independence, others act the exact opposite by never letting you out of their sight. This is called ‘shadowing’. Being followed while taking out the trash might seem like a minor annoyance at first, but such an attachment can quickly spin out of control.
If a senior is living in constant fear of being left alone, their attitude could change for the worst. They might fake serious illness to be the center of attention and force you to take care of them. Others might ring you up in the middle of the night to ask for your help to perform some miscellaneous task – such as buying a new pillow – because they can’t sleep otherwise. Helping seniors to defeat such attachment problems and open up to others could add many happy years to their life.
Discussing The Problem
It’s important to clarify that shadowing doesn’t come from any malicious intent. Aging adults who are latently afraid of isolation often put the people that are close to them – such as friends, neighbors, family members, or caregivers – into the center of their little world. They become extremely dependent on you, constantly asking for your advice or only eating food that you first approve. Assisting them in recovering from a serious illness or going through Alzheimer’s can facilitate such attachment issues.
Shadowing is very harmful to an elderly person’s lifestyle, as they can end up only focusing on one person while secluding themselves from the rest of the world. They might become angry or frightened if you try leaving them, even if you’re just going to the grocery store. The problem is that you can’t just ask them to stop, since it would completely destroy their feelings, and ultimately further fuel their isolation even more.
Instead, aim to build up their independence once again. Start by taking small steps: always explain to them how long you’ll be gone, and always come back on time. Keeping a schedule is very important in any an aging adult’s life, but especially in these situations. Involve them in daily activities, or distract them with easy tasks should you need to leave. For example, ask them to make some tea or pick flowers from the garden while you go shopping. Doing so not only gives you some much deserved alone time, but it can also boost the senior’s confidence.
Providing Additional Company for Seniors
Bear in mind that living independently and being lonely shouldn’t be mutual of one another. Just because the senior has decided to age in place, that doesn’t mean they can’t easily have a rich social life. Try to convince them to meet their peers in the community center and visit special events created for the elderly.
Having a pet to look after is also a nice way to keep them from feeling lonely. And if they are unable to look after a real animal, surprise them with a plush version since some of them are pretty lifelike. Lastly, make sure seniors experience human contact on a regular basis. Subscribe them to a lunch delivery service and ask the care agency to send a Visiting Angelf every now and then. This way the aging adults are able to chat for a bit with their visitor.
Does a Medical Alert System Help?
Although medical alert systems were created to support seniors during an emergency, the monitoring service provided by these companies can indeed relieve them of stress and anxiety. For one, their mind is put at ease knowing that if they fall or hurt themselves, then help is one button press away. But more importantly is the fact that certain medical alert providers – like Medical Alert – offer a monitoring service that can be contacted in non-emergency situations as well. This means that if the elderly person is feeling lonely or is simply looking for a sympathetic ear to listen to them, they can contact the care agent to do just that.
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