Why is Dignity Important for the Elderly?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Dignity is important for the elderly because it makes them feel respected, assists them emotionally, helps them retain independence, and promotes productive communication. Here's how to help your elderly loved one feel dignified.

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A person’s well-being and health are important to living the fullest life possible. This also applies to the elderly. The best life involves participation in experiences and activities of inclusion and meaningfulness.

The WHO (World Health Organization) highlights a few of these core values, including independence, equality, justice, participation, and rights to health.

The term “dignity” denotes “status” and “respect” and is linked to these central values.

Dignity And Respect for the Elderly

Helping a patient or loved one maintain a true sense of dignity is a difficult aspect when it comes to caregiving.

One of the more important human requirements is an important desire for respect and dignity. These needs do not change once a person becomes disabled, older, or ill.

Here are some of the reasons why dignity is so important for the elderly.

It Makes Seniors Feel Respected

If you are currently caring for your aging parent, it is easy to adopt the habit of treating your parent like they are a child. This usually happens when an aging person has cognitive or physical limitations.

However, when you treat your parent as an adult it shows that you still respect them. This goal can be accomplished by:

  • Offering appropriate choices.
  • Asking for permission before touching your parent when you help them with bathing, grooming, and any other daily routine that involves physical contact.
  • Asking your loved ones for their opinion when you know they can offer their own input.

It Assists Them Emotionally

You probably wouldn’t feel comfortable if another person started hovering over you every time you wanted to go to the bathroom, or started making decisions about what you eat or what TV shows you are allowed to watch.

If you start feeling upset when you imagine these scenarios, this is probably the same reaction your elderly parent will have if you start treating them this way.

To maintain your aging parent’s dignity, make sure you involve her or him in decision-making processes and find the best way to respect her or his privacy when you help them with bathing and toileting tasks.

It Will Help Them Retain Their Independence

When your loved one is allowed to maintain their dignity it will make her or him feel acknowledged and relevant, which leads to an authentic sense of independence.

When an aging person feels like they can still decide how they want to live their life, they are usually more open to doing advantageous things for their wellbeing, including:

  • Becoming more involved socially with other seniors, friends, and family members.
  • Enjoying nutritious meals when they are given the option to choose the meal or food and even help with the preparation.
  • Participating in regular exercise in ways that they feel comfortable with.

Independent living is essential for the elderly that are interested in maintaining a life of quality. For some people, this means receiving assistance with activities that are now a bit more challenging.

Even when caregivers or family members have genuine intentions, they might not have enough time to offer the care that their loved one deserves and needs. If your elderly parent needs a couple of days every week or even a couple of hours in a day, contact a respite care agency to help you out.

It Promotes Productive Communication

Do you find yourself having one-sided conversations when you talk to your senior parent without actually listening?

If you are doing this, your elderly parent might stop making the effort to keep a line of communication open with you. To maintain dignity in association with communication you should involve your senior parent in conversations as well as make the effort to work out what they are attempting to convey.

Even when your aging parent has started to find it difficult to verbalize what they want or what they are thinking, you can encourage a feeling of dignity by:

  • Being patient when they speak in a slower pattern than usual and avoid completing her or his sentences.
  • Take cues from her or his body language
  • Pay attention to your loved one’s facial expressions.

Wrapping Up

Dignity and respect is important aspect regardless of age. Seniors deserve our respect and to treat them in a dignified and respectful manner. We hope that these tips will help you to take the best care of your loved ones or an elderly person you are currently caring for.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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