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Shared Decision Making in Older Adults: How Important Is It?

As seniors enter a period in their lives when they need more support, there can be a lot of tough decisions to make; from finances to where to live to what kind of care is needed, it can be an uncertain time. Sometimes seniors need help in making the right decision for their future. 

However, family members and caregivers should never take over important decisions without input from the senior. Read on to learn how important shared decision-making is and how inclusive decision-making can make a difference to seniors.  

Shared Decision Making Is Critical for Older Adults

For most seniors, there comes a time when family or a caregiver naturally steps in to help provide support, and that often includes making decisions. 

Sometimes seniors experience cognitive decline and need help sorting out the implications of small and big decisions. However, seniors must remain a part of the decision-making process.

When older adults do not get to weigh in on decisions, it can lead to anxiety, frustration, and a sense of helplessness. If big decisions are being made about their future, they are likely already experiencing feelings of uncertainty. Making decisions and plans without them can increase the intensity of these feelings.

The opposite is true as well. If seniors are experiencing cognitive decline, it may not be a good idea to let them have total autonomy over important decisions. They may not realize the full consequences of their actions, and they can even be susceptible to undue influence from a friend or family member or fall victim to a scam

For these reasons, it is critical to ensure that any decisions are made together and all options are considered.

How Making Decisions Together Makes a Difference to Seniors

While it can be tempting to let seniors make their own decisions or just make decisions for them, this is generally not the right approach. Shared decision-making can make a big difference to seniors on several fronts.

Maintaining Independence

As seniors age, it’s not uncommon for them to lose a little independence. They may experience health challenges or mobility issues requiring a little more support. They may not be able to do everything they once did. Making decisions without them can further take away their independence.

Involving seniors in important decision-making gives them a sense of independence and makes them feel like they still have some autonomy in their lives.

Empowering Seniors

Involving seniors in decision-making can make them feel empowered and help ease feelings of uncertainty. Making decisions without them can take away their power and even lead to feelings of helplessness. 

Empower your loved one to weigh in on decisions and feel heard in the process. It can make a big difference in how they feel and in the overall relationship dynamic.

Ensuring Senior Safety

It’s important to always include seniors in decision-making, but a part of that is oversight to ensure safety. Sometimes caregivers or loved ones need to step in when a senior is making a decision that may pose a risk to their safety. 

For example, when seniors want to continue to use their home with stairs or drive a car, a third party may need to step in and ensure they remain safe. 

Inclusive Decision Making in Orlando, FL, Assisted Living

For seniors who need a little extra support in their day-to-day lives, Orlando, FL, assisted living can be a good option. Independent living in Orlando is another option for seniors who want to maintain an active lifestyle through retirement. 

Regardless of the senior’s needs, retirement communities offer beautiful facilities and amenities where seniors have an active role in the decisions that impact their lives.

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