Self-care goals may need individuals to build new skills, or to regain skills that they have lost, perhaps due to a change in their circumstances.

Staying Active:

In the case of older people with frailty this may be about regaining skills required to undertake activities for interest or enjoyment, or skills needed to undertake practical activities of daily living, either of which may have been affected by physical or mental health challenges or changes in their personal social or physical environment.

Encouraging older people with frailty to maintain the activities they enjoy, and to continue to be active and to engage in self-care whatever their level of frailty, can make an important contribution in maintaining the best possible quality of life. Supporting individuals, including people with cognitive impairment and / or dementia, to access normal every day services, such as shops, banks and social
activities, is a meaningful and important part of this. However, it is also important to be sensitive to any activities that may cause frustration, particularly for individuals with dementia, and to recognise when older people with frailty become more dependent, and support this appropriately.

Building New Skills and Confidence:

There will be times when an older person with frailty may need to learn news skills, such as how to make best use of assistive technology or how to engage in new pursuits to overcome isolation which may have potentially been impacted by the loss of a partner or other close family and friends. For most people, having the skills to carry out the things they need or want to do is also an essential part of building their
confidence.  There are also a range of other reasons why someone may lack confidence:

  • Bereavement can leave a person feeling ‘detached’ and not wanting to focus on their own self-care;
  • Recent falls may lead a person to be anxious and to ‘avoid’ doing things so that they do not fall again;
  • Physical changes, such as symptoms of long-term conditions, may bring ‘visible’ changes for individuals;
  • Incontinence can bring feelings of embarrassment and loss of confidence;
  • Without regular contact individuals may feel isolated and lose ‘social confidence’;
  • A person may be struggling to come to terms with their long-term condition(s) and lose the confidence to learn new skills and set new goals in self care.

Supporting people to develop new skills, or to regain old skills, and to address other reasons for low confidence, plays an important role in supporting self-care. This may be through directly working with the individual, or through signposting or referring to more appropriate support networks and services.