Gary's Guidance: Some Thoughts about Being Supportive With the Elderly

December 2013

Some Thoughts about Being Supportive With the Elderly

Most people agree that it is important to have a support system.  A support system is generally thought of as a network of people who may offer emotional or moral support, practical advice, and assistance in achieving specific objectives. Support systems are vital for the well-being of the elderly.  Support systems can consist of various professionals and friends, and include an environment such as a personal care home. Often the processes of support leads to decision making and the person feeling better, and outcomes gained.  Here are some things to consider when establishing a support system:

  • Size matters:  having a small number of people in your support system may lack the resources needed to provide help, and too large of a support system takes much energy and effort to maintain.
  • Building a support system takes time, skill, and energy.  It involves letting go of support that is no longer relevant or functional. It also involves adding people.
  • The elderly have more difficulty maintaining support systems due to the natural decline of aging causing changes in cognitive and physical functioning, and losses associated to people moving away and in some cases dying.
  • Asking for support is difficult because it causes guilt if the person feels that they are imposing.  A person may feel personal failure or weakness.  It assumes some risk to being disappointed or even rejected should someone say no.
  • Support systems may possibly foster dependency instead of resourcefulness.
  • Good support systems have equity:  both sides feel that there is a fair arrangement and reciprocal benefit.

Gary Kozick, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

(215) 510-8901