The Shrinking Senior

Why do seniors, as they age, seem to all of a sudden they feel like they have no power? It seems like their confidence is gone. It is something that seems to irritate me because I am watching someone, who during my life, moved with confidence and authority that is now seeming to shrink down in their seat. I’ve witnessed this behavior from my parents.

Why it is that they choose not speak up? I’ve observed this increased tendency to shrink back and to not ask for what they need. They tend to wait for me to speak on their behalf. Why do they do that? However, when it comes to me, they feel comfortable enough to make requests and at times extreme demands of me and my time and expect me to jump at their beck and call. I can only speculate that the reason for shrinking back relates to feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps they feel like they are not a whole person anymore and feel helpless and defenseless because they have to be dependent on other people to take care of them. So, to me, it seems that they feel the need to stay quiet or act timid because they feel like they don’t want to be a bother to anyone even if they are being paid to tend to their needs. From my observation, it appears that their voice is lost and is often stifled because of feelings of a loss of their inner power.

How do you deal with this? I suggest encouraging them to be an active participant in their own care. Of course I recommend this only if your loved one has the capacity to do so. My parents are generally limited by their physical ailments so they can actively give direction and communicate what they need. If they are receiving care in the home, empower them to make their own decisions and ask them to make their own requests. I’ve tried to step back to some degree and encourage them to make their own requests. I feel it is important for my parents to feel comfortable to assert themselves. I also have found that it helps me to feel comfortable that they will be ok when I’m not around and it lets me know that they’ll be able to handle themselves. It is definitely something as a caregiver that one needs to be comfortable with.

Have you encountered this? What steps have you taken to handle this type of situation?

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