Everyone, especially our seniors, should have the chance to live independently with pride.
Ageing can sometimes make independent living difficult, but we know that most seniors want to stay in their own home for as long as possible. Fortunately, small changes and a little support can go a long way towards helping them maintain their independence.
The value of maintaining independence
Losing independence is difficult for older people. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Their entire lives they have lived independently – working, raising a family (maybe you!) and being in control of their own decisions.
As these dynamics shift, reclaiming and maintaining as much independence as possible is not only important for maintaining self-esteem and self-respect, but also for seniors’ physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
When our loved ones require a little more help it is natural to want to take over and do more for them.
The desire to help is a wonderful and caring response. Instead of ‘taking over’, try channelling this response into helping our loved ones navigate the hurdles to independence and assess options for independent living.
Here are some ideas to discuss and share with your loved ones to help them stay mobile, safe and happy.
Tips to help seniors stay independent
- Support their social life: Help them to continue activities such as visiting relatives and family, connecting with their friends or groups, attending church or other interests they have always had. This can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Staying active: Engaging in regular exercise helps maintain mobility, strength and balance. This could be regular walks with friends or neighbours around the block, gardening or a home exercise program designed by a physiotherapist. It may seem difficult to attend classes such as yoga and tai chi but with technology it is possible to stay active at home with online exercise classes. Exercise can help prevent seniors from suffering a loss of balance and strength, which can lead to serious falls.
- Involve seniors in day-to-day activities: Get them involved in meal planning, cooking, baking, shopping and cleaning, where possible and safe. This promotes feelings of achievement and self-worth.
- Keep the brain active: Involving seniors in problem solving, playing cards, board games, sudoko, crossword, doing puzzles or following their favourite sports team. This helps boost their memory skills and self-confidence in tackling problems.
- Preventing falls: Making simple changes in the home such as removing hazards or installing helpful aids can extend the period an older adult can stay in their own home. A physiotherapist or occupational therapist can make recommendations to make the home environment safe by eliminating dangerous barriers such as clutter, re-arranging the furniture for smooth navigation around the home and installing handrails and ramps if appropriate.
- Setting up a routine: Help them keep up with day-to-day activities, stay connected with family and friends and maintain independence in their own home by helping set up a daily, weekly or monthly routine.
These few simple things can help create a sense of control, increase autonomy and enable your loved one to stay mobile, safe and happy.
If you would like to learn more, please contact our friendly team here at The Physio Co. We would love to hear from you!