Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Helping Elderly Loved Ones Find Value and Meaning--Part One

In every language, every culture, the most difficult words you have to say are:
"I'm sorry. Forgive me."
Desmond Tutu
Spiritual and religious frameworks offer a means of evaluating one's life. Indiviuduals may search for ways to "make wrongs right." They may also seek ways to be forgiven so they might be released from guilt and shame.
For some individuals, this might come only by means of formal "confession" to a member of the clergy Therefore, you might ask your elderly loved ones if they would like a private visit with a priest, minister, bishop, or other spiritual leader.
They may also need to forgive others for perceived past transgressions.
When loved ones are angry, bitter, or resentful and seem unable to get out of their victim role, it might be helpful to encourage them to reframe their experience and look at their situation from a different perspective.
In a loving way, you might suggest they focus more on what they can do rather than what they can't do. They may no longer be able to walk, but perhaps they can sit and write names on the backs of photos and put those into albums.
They might be able to make phone calls for a charitable organization, read to pre-school children or help a child or adult leard to read.
Help them create a list of things they could do and would enjoy doing. Then find ways to make those things happen. This will help them to focus on ways they can continue to make contributions to their families and to society in general.
Sandra -- Caregiver Guru for the Caregiver Generation

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