Aging is inevitable, but not easy. Seniors usually gradually notice a decrease in their physical ability and struggle with the tasks required around home. They can potentially endanger themselves and others when they drive or walk to places outside their residence, and these factors could cause them to remain indoors and increasingly reliant on others around them.
This can emotionally exhaust their family, lead to caregiver burnout, and diminish their mental and physical health, resulting in a strong decline in the elder’s quality of life. However, here are five ways seniors can better maintain their independence as they grow older, allowing them a more fund and fulfilling life.
Recruit In-Home Help
At some point in their lives, most seniors need additional help during their day-to-day lives. This is perfectly normal and to-be-expected. Rather than fighting against this natural process, it is wiser to embrace it and provide them needed help in the form of in-home assistants.
This removes a significant caregiver burden from the family so that they can continue to function as independent people in charge of their parents’ care while utilizing the experience and knowledge of professionals.
In-home care does not have to require a live-in nurse; some assistants may only need to stop by once or twice a week for an hour or two. By offering seniors supplemental aid, older people can continue to live life the way they want to rather than being bound to their family’s schedule.
Rely on Transportation Services
One of the biggest challenges that many seniors face is transportation. They may no longer have the motor control or vision to drive, or they may struggle with memory sufficient to use public transit. When they lose the ability to self-transport, they lose the majority of their independence, becoming reliant on caregivers for activities and even basic tasks like shopping.
However, there are local services that provide low-cost or free transportation for elders and ensure they are safe and looked after while out of the house. For instance, some senior transport services will drop your loved one off at the store, then wait for them outside to ensure they return home safely. Enabling your loved one to spend time on tasks of their choosing outside the home maintains their senior independence in a safe manner.
Stay Well in Body and Mind
Seniors gradually lose their task independence as their physical and mental acuity begin to wane. You can take steps to prevent or delay this progression thus allowing them to retain control of their lives for longer. Encourage them to stay active, mobile, and flexible within the scope of their ability—this could include simple tasks like walking, cooking, or light cleaning in the home.
Stimulating their mind with games, time with family, books, and more will help to maintain mental clarity and provide the emotional energy to engage with the world around them, slowing the loss of independence. But be prepared to provide for the assistance needed when it becomes clear that a task – like taking medicine on schedule or cooking – becomes too much for them.
Choose Social Activities
Human beings are social, and this can quickly become lost as elders struggle with mobility and transportation. If your loved one is still capable of getting out of the house for short periods, few things are more beneficial than having them meet with friends or friendly, cordial individuals for social time.
If a senior is homebound, having friends visit or even assisting in setting up Zoom calls can be powerful tools to enable seniors to maintain their own separate lives. A sense of community is critical for a person’s well-being.
Set Personal Goals
One of the less talked-about drivers behind independence and a positive spirit is hope. When seniors feel that they have nothing left to do or try, their physical and mental wellness quickly degrades, and may no longer attempt to live an independent life because there is nothing there for them.
Encourage your loved one to set personal goals, whether they are as grand as visiting a different country or as simple as completing a book of crossword puzzles. These motivators should be separate from family group activities so that the elderly can maintain a sense of independence and choice based on what they personally enjoy.
Learn About Aging in Place from Local Resources
Independence gradually wanes as an individual grows older, but this inevitable process need not be frustrating or upsetting. Local communities often provide a plethora of resources to help older folks thrive in their more limited lifestyle.
The Shepherd’s Center of Northern Virginia serves our local elder population by sharing resources for elder services, transportation Free Senior Transportation Options, and help with aging in place. Contact us to learn about the options that are available in your area and how they can be used to help your loved one maintain their independence well into their later years.