For some, it will become impossible to maintain their independence. This is especially true with the elderly. However, it is vital to ensure independent living for aging adults as long as possible. Why?
Because to maintain independence (for yourself or a loved one) is to promote confidence in the ability to be self-reliant. Loss of independence also sometimes takes away certain abilities to make choices for themselves. It’s very hard for many elderly to give up control.
It also promotes mental, physical, social, and emotional well-being.
Independence often makes the cognitive function of the elderly continue to flourish. With the right care, support, and encouragement, it will empower elders to continue living independently.
But what exactly is meant by “maintaining independence?”
- Older adults living by and large without assistance
- Ability to complete everyday tasks (cooking, going to the restroom)
- A loved one maintaining independence via physical activity (exercise, getting up and down relatively easily)
How do the elderly maintain independence?
The challenges in age, mobility, behavioral health conditions like isolation and loneliness, and financial tightness are all contributors for seniors to degrade their independence.
Helping them maintain independence by giving simple home tasks be it physically or mentally will sustain their sense of purpose. Encouraging easy chores, new hobbies, fun activities, simple exercises, and reading books will promote stimulus for them.
With a little help and support from you like providing home improvements, these tasks may be simple, but they can go a long way.
1. Make them feel that they are their own person
It’s personal for a loved one. For you, something needs to happen. Either they need a caregiver, or to move into a retirement/assisted living community.
No matter what you do, keep their feelings in mind. They feel like they’re losing control of their own life. Many older loved ones understand they can’t keep living alone forever. However, thinking you need help and actually taking steps that makes them less independent is a whole other issue.
Key tips: Give them the authority to own their choices. Have an example of each of the programs and ideas that will help them remain in their home, but may take some time to adapt to certain changes.
Examples of these changes include:
- At home health caregivers (Do the leg work and see if your loved one is covered)
- Meal delivery services (Bring examples of the food and even a menu, if available)
- New phones with a large number for them to see easily
- All loved ones, friends, and local important phone numbers in VERY large print
At first, your independent family member will possibly resist change. However, over time the changes seem more natural, and your senior relative’s quality of life improves.
The power to express themselves makes them feel their sense of self in the environment they live in. It is important for them to make these choices like what they like to wear, and the food they want to eat in their daily living.
2. Encourage them to use technology
The internet is a great tool to connect with family, friends, and relatives, and basically anyone around the world. It bridges the physical limitations, and the confinements to interact with other people.
And making sure a device is accessible with legible fonts and easy to use function, provides mental stimulation and a sense of belonging.
Loneliness can bring premature death to older adults by 14% according to a study from Walden University. That is why it is important to encourage them to be socially active and maintain old friendships, and develop new ones. It will help them feel happier with a sense of importance and independence.
Maintaining friendships and relationships with family is possibly more important than independent living. It’s why many seniors choose to move to retirement communities. Another way to encourage a person’s socialization is to help them find a part-time job.
A senior may not need certain benefits (like health insurance, for example). However, seeing and interacting with people is a great way to remain active, reduce the potential for depression and balance too much time in the home.
Key tip: Assist your loved one in their job search. Even call a potential employer’s job post, to see if it’s an opportunity for seniors.
4. Home improvements to motivate the elderly to grant more independence
This will give elders the freedom to do things at home without compromising safety and physical limitations. These simple modifications will give efficiency to aging generations to have independence for as long as possible.
- Changing door handles into easy-to-grip lever handles.
- Adding ramps with a low standard slope to steps will decrease falls.
- Installing bathroom floor improvements with non-skid latex mat, in both entry and exit points.
- Replace faucets with lever handles for easier use.
- Make room for more open space for easy maneuver between furniture and walls.
- Adjusting the toilet to be more elevated for elders who finds it hard to squat, sit, stand, or bend. Grab bars on the walls and beside toilet bowls will support the shifting of weights when they are sitting to standing or walking.
- Lower the cabinets and drawers for handy access of the house supplies such as groceries, medicines, and toiletries should be at waist level.
- Walk-in closets should be modified with multiple heights for easy access.
- Install more flat spaces in the kitchen to encourage sliding, and no lifting of heavy pots.
- Lower the height of the oven, countertop, and range for more comfortable use. Raise the dishwasher to avoid strains in bending.
These are great and useful remodeling tweaks you can do for the elderly to enjoy their daily life in the comfort of their homes. It will prevent unnecessary falls and avoidable injuries. So, they can live in a comfortable and functional environment that promotes stimulation and a sense of accomplishment.
The continuous mobility and independence to do whatever elders wish to do gives them a sense of fulfillment and resonates with the longevity and vitality of their life. It improves the total quality of life by accomplishing more.