So often when an aging loved one begins to experience chronic illness or disability, family and professionals jump in to provide support and care, which is certainly necessary and helpful at times. However, we must remain aware that even when senior adults become more dependent on others for care and support, they are still adults. Therefore, it is important to remember the person for who they are and were prior to the illness or disability. It is common to focus on the problem, the illness or injury, and lose focus on the whole person, who is so much more than the issue at hand.
Remembering that the person with a fractured hip is the same person who ran a household and raised successful children; or the man who started his own business that he led for 40 years is the same man who can no longer drive, reminds us to approach these situations with attention to maintaining the dignity and respect that is so needed when elements of independence are permanently or temporarily lost. In the midst of the problem, if we stop to ask the “patient” who they are; the answer would likely be “I’m still me”. If we can remember that, our well-intended “helping” becomes much more helpful.