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Try to set up the caregiving routine to meet the needs and mood of your older relative.  Don't force him or her to take part in activities they don't want to, but encourage joining in those they enjoy.

Build self-respect by not over-helping.  It is easy to focus on what they can't do instead of what they can do.  You may be tempted to take over everything.  But, that will only make them more dependent and helpless and perhaps resentful.  Encourage whatever he/she can do for her/himself even if it takes more time and isn't done as well as you would like.

Try to find ways in which your older relative can help you.  You may have to break tasks down into smaller parts, for example folding laundry but not putting it away.  People like to feel that they are contributing something, even if it is only advice or companionship.  It helps them to feel a sense of belonging and improves self-esteem.

Don't talk about your older relative as if they aren’t there.  Include them in the conversation.  Have he or she take part in family decisions whenever possible, especially if the decision affects him or her.

Ask visitors to set up a time before they come so that the older person can be ready.  One or two visitors at a time is probably all that a confused person can handle.  It is important to make social contact, but if a person is weak or ill they may not feel like having visitors.

Listen to the older person.  You may get tired of always hearing stories about the past.  Older people tell these stories to assure themselves that their lives have had some meaning or purpose.  Their self-esteem grows as they remember and talk about a time when they felt important, needed, and in control of their lives.  It is more than just living the past, it is a way of making a connection between past and present.

Make a safe living space.  Many areas in the house can be unsafe when someone is unsteady on his feet, confused, or can't see or hear well.  Check to see that rugs don't slip and electrical and phone cords are out of the way.  Make sure furniture is sturdy enough to hold on to and harmful products are stored in a safe place.  Your older relative many need bathroom handrails, a walker, or other special equipment.  (You can get advice on this from a rehabilitation consultant).


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