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When Caring For Older People, Dignity Counts(2)

Olderpeople feel that their health problems pose a challenge to their sense ofindependence, dignity and identity and sometimes the health care they are givenmakes things worse.

People are often surprised by the impact that illness and growing old had ontheir lives. Their sense of 'self' is affected by the limitations imposed bytheir age and illnesses. "Growing old and coming to terms with illnessesis complex and demanding at times - physically, mentally and emotionally. Whenhealth goes, it can come as quite a shock.

Older people work hard at maintaining their health and independence, whilecoming to terms with becoming dependent on others. The struggle to maintainday-to-day activities, their dignity can quickly and easily be lost. It's notuncommon for the elderly to feel as though they ought to be able to do things,but are not and it's hard to accept.

While some elderly people are positive about making changes, others found itharder to adjust their day-to-day routines.

In old agewhen your health fails, it affects your sense of self. Understanding that froman older person's perspective is crucially important. Care and support canenhance dignity or it can worsen the loss of it if not given in the right way.Good support is essential in terms of how people make the adjustments they needto make.

The relationship between dignity, identity and independence is complex."Loss of independence involves a change in your identity and is achallenge to your dignity.  It's throughthe support of others that individuals are able to rebuild their sense ofidentity in their changed circumstances.

Support and care need to be responsive to what people are going through and tosee things from the perspective of the person on the receiving end ofcare.  Older people are going throughenormous changes and the people who are helping them need to be aware of these.

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