What does maintaining your independence look like to you? While that vision probably looks different for each person, everyone deserves the opportunity to live independently with dignity—especially our senior loved ones.
Although independent living for older adults may require a few additional considerations, there are some preventative measures you can take to help them age peacefully from the comfort of home. Since February is Senior Independence Month, let’s look at some ways you can help foster independence and improve the standard of living for you and your aging loved one.
How can seniors remain independent?
Facilitating senior independence could include several things from making upgrades to the home and encouraging social interaction to even being mindful of their eating habits; so what makes sense for your situation? Here are some things to keep in mind:
Safety & Accessibility: Ensuring adequate accessibility and safety should be top of mind. This can include complex structural changes such as fixing uneven concrete or simple fixes like installing brighter lighting. A home safety checklist can help ensure nothing gets missed during your accessibility inspection.
Caregivers: If your loved one needs an extra hand with everyday tasks around the home, hiring an in-home caregiver may be the perfect solution. Caregivers can assist with the practical needs of daily life so your loved ones can continue being safe, comfortable, and happy at home. They may prefer this arrangement over a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Companionship: Loneliness and social isolation are risk factors for severe illnesses like depression and dementia. Making sure there is companionship, whether in the form of visits or helping them maintain an active social life outside the home, is critical for seniors living alone.
Exercise: Seniors can practice solo exercise on their own, like walking, but research has found group exercise classes are excellent for promoting good physical health and emotional connections. Check around your local area for senior exercise groups and get connected.
Technology: Teaching your loved ones how to use technology to stay connected can provide you with peace of mind while they’re home alone. You may consider helping them set up their social media account or teach them how to make a video call so that they can see and speak to you or others whenever they want.
Eating Habits: They say you are what you eat, right? It’s never too late to start making the right food choices. Ensuring that you’re getting the nutrients you need and following a proper diet can help you stay active, healthy, and independent. If cooking for yourself or your loved one is too much, try starting small and simple with one-pot meals or meal prepping.
When to seek additional help
The reasons behind the loss of independence are complex and vary person-to-person. Activity levels, cognitive decline, the loss of a spouse or loved one, and even genetics all play a role. When complications arise, it can become challenging for seniors to handle daily activities and function independently.
Although aging is inevitable, it doesn’t mean we can’t navigate it with dignity and grace. If you’re noticing signs that you or your loved one may be at the point of needing help to maintain your independence at home, don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support. You’d be surprised what a little bit of help can do to help keep you safe, healthy, and happy at home.