When a family member suffers a decline in physical health or impairment in physical ability the focus of treatment primarily centers on restoring the body to a healthier state or the managing of symptoms. Even the most well intentioned health professional may not have the foresight or time to address and treat any mental health issues which arise in response to limited mobility, the experience of pain, the loss of independence, or the awareness of one’s own mortality. Left untreated, such emotional suffering most often worsens, diminishing quality of life and further eroding physical health.
Emotional suffering need not be the outcome of illness and disability. When basic emotional human needs are nurtured and met mental health can flourish and, in turn, give meaning and hope to a loved one struggling to adapt to the challenges of aging and limitation. The following basic human needs and their fulfillment are an integral part of any life. With the help of an empathic, dedicated caregiver you can give a family member in need of assistance the stable and enriched emotional well-being they deserve.
Basic Human Needs
1. A Sense of Dignity and Autonomy
A study by the Journal of Nursing and Health Sciences found that when the elderly were made to feel incapable of making their own decisions it caused them to lose their self-respect. When a person is not involved in the decision making process it violates the need to feel competent, to feel connected to others, to feel respected.
We all need to feel independent and capable in order to maintain a feeling of self worth. Our sense of worth, the ability to make our own choices, and our personal freedom are intimately linked to our personal dignity. This sense of dignity, the right to respect and ethical treatment, is a universal human entitlement. Loss of such dignity leads to a loss of self worth which then leads to depression and feelings of hopelessness.
2. Feeling Useful and Competent
”If there is no supportive, appreciative relationship, they feel like a burden to others and they feel lonely; this loneliness creates suffering and counteracts well being and health.” From a study done on the elderly from The International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being Competence, or being capable of accomplishing things on our own, is directly related to autonomy. When we are supported in our sense of autonomy we are bett????er able to meet our need to feel competent and useful. When we don’t feel competent we feel helpless. And helplessness leads to a lack of feeling useful, of feeling like a burden.
When the need to feel capable and of use are lacking, depression results. Often all that is needed is one other person who helps us to see our capabilities and with whom we feel wanted.
3. Meaningful Connections
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” -Brené Brown
Having a meaningful connection to another person is one of the most life-affirming and necessary gifts we can give to each other. Humans crave emotionally significant relationships and these relationships become all the more important to one who’s activity is limited due to health or impairment. Feeling connected, sharing, feeling listened to and liked all help to combat the destructive and deeply felt absence of health and happiness. As we long to make a more independent life we also long to make a friend. And a significant part of finding meaning in life is finding a relationship which is meaningful.
The above basic emotional needs are not separate. Each one feeds into and compliments the others. A feeling of being worthy of respect reinforces our sense of competence and usefulness just as our feeling useful increases our sense of worth. A meaningful connection to another human being confirms to us our dignity and another’s need for our presence. We begin to understand that the absence of our presence would be noticed and missed. We begin to see that no matter our condition, we matt????er to others. And others matt????er to us.
If you are currently seeking care for a loved one and recognize the importance of finding just the right compassionate, consistent caregiver who is not just well qualified, but passionate about the health, safety and emotional well-being of your family member then please feel free to contact us and let us tell you how we can tailor a caregiving plan that is as unique as your needs.