When we see or hear the term ‘independence,’ words such as living a fulfilled lifestyle, having choices, and being self-reliant come to our mind. However, independence in old age becomes a challenge due to health conditions causing difficulties with mobility.
Irrespective of their medical condition, seniors desire to live independently. They have made decisions, raised families, worked jobs throughout their lives, and it should come as no surprise that they want to continue doing so.
Even though family members cannot remove health-related barriers, they can most certainly undertake a few ways to promote independence in the elderly that are laid out in this blog post.
1. Make Personal Items Accessible
If you have an elderly patient in the family who needs help to get dressed, you can still increase their independence by letting them choose what to wear. For that, you would need to make their attires and other personal items easily accessible.
For instance, their wardrobe should be close enough so that the clothes are visible to them. Installing an open wardrobe is also a good idea. Make sure that you present them with good choices. Similarly, other items such as money and jewelry should be easily accessible for promoting independence in the elderly.
2. Invest in Comfortable Clothing
Learning how to promote independence in the elderly would give them an incredible confidence boost. If the senior can wear their clothes without much difficulty, it’s a good sign. However, they may face problems with zippers and buttons.
Therefore, investing in pants with elastic waistbands would prove to be quite helpful. Ask the elderly who can give you important insights regarding clothing – what’s comfortable for them and what’s not.
If they require less support while getting dressed, it would significantly enhance their confidence and independence.
3. Buy Voice-Activated Technology
Tech giants such as Google and Amazon have introduced top-notch voice-activated home devices in recent years. There lies excellent potential when it comes to helping the elderly remain independent.
Seniors with mobility challenges, low vision, and other disabilities can benefit immensely from voice-activated technology. At the command of their voice, such devices can:
- Make phone calls
- Tell the weather, date, and time
- Control lights around the house
- Control the thermostat
- Lock and unlock doors
- Operate the television
- Play music
Seniors may not be able to use computers or smartphones to access the information mentioned above. The technology empowers them. Hence, it would definitely decrease their reliance on family members.
A great advantage is that voice-activated home devices are updated with new use cases regularly.
4. Encourage Physical Activity
This may seem like a no-brainer. However, the significance of physical activity increases even more for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Exercise improves the mobility and strength of seniors living with these conditions.
Hence, encouraging light exercises and daily walks are great for promoting independence in the elderly. Not only would it help the elderly to get fresh air but also maintain a reasonable quality of life.
5. Inculcate a Sense of Purpose
With the loss of independence comes depression and feelings of hopelessness. It ultimately leads to lower quality of life and other mental health problems. Inculcating a sense of purpose, on the other hand, helps negate these effects.
You should find opportunities where seniors can actively contribute to the community, friends, and family as they did before. Even if they cannot achieve the same level of independence, it offers them a sense of accomplishment.
In other words, promoting independence in the elderly is crucial for seniors to combat health-related challenges head-on. Another great way of developing a sense of purpose is to participate in volunteer activities.
Bonus Tip: Improve Strength and Balance
The ability to maintain independence in old age depends a lot on seniors’ strength and balance. It’s essential to work on strength daily; failing to do it could lead to loss of core balance and muscle mass.
Another reason why improving strength and balance is important is because it prevents falls in the elderly. Hence, it avoids painful hospitalizations and long-term injuries. The latter can again make it extremely challenging for them to maintain independence.
Thanks to timely intervention, promoting independence in the elderly shouldn’t be a daunting task. The earlier you take the steps mentioned above, the better quality of life they will achieve.