Ensuring your Elderly Parent’s Privacy and Dignity

Privacy and Dignity of the Elderly

This is an absolute minefield. You want to be there helping them as much as possible and they need you there too. But they also want to live their own life. As a family member, it is not always easy to set and maintain the right boundaries, which can result in you accidentally overstepping the mark and upsetting your loved one, or causing damage to your relationship with them.

It is our goal is to provide all the information that you need to know in as straightforward and accessible a way as possible, so you can concentrate on the things that really matter: caring for the ones you love.

What is privacy and dignity?

Privacy refers to freedom from intrusion and dignity is about respecting them and promoting their own self-respect.

How might you fail to give them privacy and dignity, and what to do about it

It isn’t always clear where the boundary is, however, overstepping the mark and be devastating for your relationship, even if they don’t mention it right away. Here are a few bad habits that people fall into, and how to avoid them:

  • Being too present: As you are responsible for their needs, you might feel like you have to be keeping an eye on them, however, they may not always appreciate that as they are still their own person. To avoid this, agree to and set up regular times for you to come over. Outside of those times, always ring to check that it is ok to visit.
  • Invading their personal space: When caring for them, you can’t help but get physically close to them, however, this can be difficult for them to accept. To overcome these issues, talk them through what you are going to do before you do it and ask their permission. If they don’t seem sure, tell them why to need to do it, and ask again.
  • Seeing them naked: When toileting and showering you may end up seeing more that you would like. They will feel the same way, so be sure to talk about this over a cup of tea before you begin assisting them in this way. To learn more on toileting and showering, check out this article here.
  • Ignoring their needs: When we get into the swing of things, it can be easy to forget that there may be things they want, that they don’t give voice to. For example, they may want to change their routine, what they wear, have for breakfast and lunch, etc. Again, be sure to sit down with them every couple of months or so and talk through their routine, and ask what they would like to change. You can also suggest things to add, like activities and games, which you can learn about here.
  • Ignoring incontinence: This is something many of us do. Make sure that you talk about it with them and how to manage it better, something you can learn more about here.
  • Cutting them out of medical decisions: This is also very common. Make sure you involve them in any conversations you have with your GP. Whilst they may not take part, or even seem to register what is going on, the last thing they want is for things to be happening to them that they have had no warking of. You can also remind them of what the doctor said to them, to gain their compliance.
  • Disrespecting their beliefs: Something we are all guilty of at times, this can be incredibly upsetting when you consider what a large part of their world you represent. Be careful not to force your views on them too strongly or disrespect theirs too much.

There are a number of resources you can read to gather further information on this, we do encourage you to check them out:

As always, we are on-hand to help you tread this fine line. Please get in touch, by clicking on the chat icon to the right of your screen, or by going to the contact us section.