For many adults, one of the most challenging parts of aging is the loss of their independence. One day they’re still responsible for others and are taking care of them, and then there comes a time they need to take care of themselves, which can be frustrating and depressing to deal with. While some seniors can continue to live independently, requiring very little or no help, others need some level of assistance, possibly due to mental or physical limitations. In these situations, encouraging the independence of your loved one is essential to their wellbeing.
Why independent living is important for your aging loved one
Independent living benefits your loved one in many ways. It can boost their self-esteem and confidence, help mental and physical health, as well as improve their quality of life and sense of purpose. When elderly people need care, they often feel guilty that they’ve become a burden on their loved ones. Encouraging independence can help reduce this guilt and make them generally happier. It’s therefore imperative to promote independence. The good news is, there are many ways you can do this.
Falling is a serious concern for seniors. Your loved one, especially if they’ve fallen before, may be worried about walking, showering, and doing everyday tasks on their own. Making a few safety modifications in the home can keep them safe and encourage them to do more things independently, without assistance. Installing safety features such as chair lifts, ramps, grab rails, and purchasing easy-to-use kitchen utensils and bathroom tools are a great first step. You can also consider wearable personal alarms that your loved one can use to get help if they fall, feel unwell, or need help for any other problem.
When your loved one can no longer walk a longer distance or is wheelchair-bound, it may become difficult for them to leave their home, which can make them feel isolated and lonely. Getting a mobility scooter may encourage them to get outside, meet up with neighbors and friends, and go short distances from their home all by themselves.
Support their social life
Spending time with their family and friends may help your loved one avoid a feeling of isolation and depression. Make sure they get regular visits and calls or letters from family members and friends. Help them continue their regular activities like attending church and reconnecting with groups they were involved in. Taking them to library lectures, theater shows, concerts or community events can also be very helpful.
Involve them in the day-to-day
Asking your loved one to help you with a small task may increase their sense of purpose and help them keep busy and feel important. You can ask them to fold the laundry, help you put away groceries or assist with meal preparations. Even if you can only ask them to do a minor task that’s not necessarily useful for you, it’s important that you make them feel important and helpful. You can even take on a little project together such as baking a cake or decorating muffins.
Staying active is critical for good health, so make sure that your loved one gets some exercise every day—whether it’s a yoga class at the senior center, planting flowers in the garden, a walk around the block or easy chair exercises at home.
How can an in-home caregiver help?
When caring for a loved one, it’s easy to fall into a routine of no longer doing things with them but for them. However, cherishing your relationship, enjoying your time together and making memories is really important. This is not always easy when you have so many responsibilities, and neither is navigating your own life at the same time. This is why many families decide to cooperate with an in-home caregiver. They are professionals with knowledge about different diseases affecting aging adults, who can help take a lot of weight off your shoulders. These are a few ways they can help:
- Light housekeeping tasks
- Assisting your loved one with personal hygiene tasks
- Running errands, making doctor’s appointments
- Encouraging exercise
- Enforcing a daily routine
- Medication reminders
- Meal preparations, assistance with feeding
- Monitoring your loved one’s health and keeping you updated with any potential changes
- Navigating challenging situations or difficult behavior that’s a result of a disease
While an in-home caregiver can immensely improve your loved one’s quality of life, they can also be really helpful to you and your family. If you’re interested to find out more, you can read more about our in-home caregiving services here.