Loss of independence can be discouraging to older adults. They have spent their entire lives living independently, working jobs, raising families, and making decisions.
The natural effects of aging can sometimes make independent living harder than it once was. Difficulties with mobility, behavioral health conditions such as isolation and loneliness, and financial strains are just some of the contributors to a loss of independence in aging adults.
While we cannot avoid some barriers to independence, we can take the time to understand the importance of independence in seniors and look for ways to increase opportunities for independent living. The following benefits are common results of senior independence and demonstrate how important it is to empower older adults to live independent lives.
1. Feel like an individual
The ability to make choices throughout the day has a big impact on how you feel about yourself. When you are no longer managing the decisions in your life, you might feel like less of an individual.
Older adults have lived their whole lives with their own personalities and beliefs. If they reach a point when they cannot express themselves, they won’t feel like themselves. These feelings can lead to depression, anger, or destructive behavior, which are damaging to both the senior and his/her caregiver.
Make sure you or your loved one is able to maintain their sense of self in the environment they live in. They should be able to personalize their space with photos and items that reflect the things they care about and enjoy. It’s also beneficial for them to make choices in daily living, like the clothes they wear and the food they eat.
2. Maintain balance and strength
Retaining balance and strength is a huge determining factor in someone’s ability to stay independent. It also motivates older adults to stay active, which may result in health benefits that foster independence.
If strength is not routinely worked on, it’s likely an aging individual will lose muscle mass and core balance. Loss of strength and balance can lead to dangerous falls that leave a senior in a hospital or assisted living facility for a long time. Injuries also make it hard to maintain independence.
Maintaining physical ability is a great way to prevent falls that lead to a long-term loss of independence. There are also mobility devices that provide support for seniors who need help walking, such as walkers and railings.
3. Sense of purpose
Loss of independence can be isolating. Seniors who are isolated often develop feelings of hopelessness and depression, and the negative effects on their mental health can lower their quality of life.
Independence gives seniors a sense of purpose. They have opportunities for achievement, can contribute to the lives of their family, friends, and neighbors, and enjoy activities that they’ve always done.
The chance to set and reach goals has a big impact, even if they seem small. Independence allows older adults to take on the unique challenges of aging head on and overcome them with a sense of accomplishment.
Even if a senior is limited by mobility, they can still gain a sense of purpose through involvement in volunteer activities.
4. Aids with memory skills
The effects of independent living can contribute to improved health conditions in some older adults. Increased memory skills are just one to name, and an important factor in living a fulfilling life.
Memory loss gradually happens as we age, but independence and activity boost memory skills. Higher activity levels increase blood flow to the brain and using the mind often helps to preserve memory. Daily routines help promote both memory and independence.
Source: Vantage Health