As a person ages, the body wears out and deteriorates. The person's physical and mental abilities are also reduced.
However, the elder's ego, or the person's sense of self-importance, does not age. The ego continues to believe in the body's capabilities as they were when the person was younger. For example, the elder may believe that they can read as well as they could when they were younger.
While you may find out about their reduced ability, say to read, the elder may refuse to admit it.
To hide their body's inability to perform certain activities, they give excuses. Sometimes, they find ways to put the blame on something in their environment, say the room is too dark to read properly.
As a Caregiver, you should acknowledge the elder's ego and respect its need to protect the person's identity.
When the elder criticizes something in their environment, find out why the elder is complaining.
For example, if the elder finds a toast too hard, find out the reason. The elder may criticize the food because their dentures hurt. Try to rectify the problem.
If you feel that the elder is trying to make excuses to hide an inability, do not argue with them. For example, if they complain that the salad is too bland, remember that they have a reduced sense of taste. Try adding some salt.
Empathize and try to find the real reason behind their discomfort. Pick up cues. Remember that the elder may not state the problem clearly. For example, the elder may say that they do not like soup. However, the real reason may be that their hands tremble and they cannot have soup using a spoon.
Resolve the elder's problem as best as possible.
Observe if your resolution is satisfactory to the elder.
If not, then try another way of resolving the elder's discomfort. For example, try to add pepper to the elder's salad to make it taste better.
In addition to reduced physical capabilities, the elder may also be unable to accept their changed role in society. Remember that they may have achieved a lot in their life. For example, the elder may have run a large company when they were young.
However, in their old age, they may be dependent on others in several ways. This may not be easy for them to accept. They may find it difficult to take instructions or take help from you with basic activities such as walking.
In such situations, do not argue. Be patient and empathetic. Appreciate how well they have led their life.
Sometimes, the elder may not be able to accept the change in their appearance.
They may make excuses to hide their discomfort. For example, they may try to avoid social interaction. Allow them their space.
Talk to them about the positive things that they still have in life. Encourage them to do activities that they are passionate about.