When you’re caring for an elderly relative, you want to be there for them as much as possible. However, you can’t be there all the time because you have other stuff to do, such as work and taking care of your home.
This point is why it’s so important to help seniors and elderly relatives maintain their independence. As you get older, you aren’t as capable as you once were, but that doesn’t mean your parents or grandparents can’t still look after themselves. Still, you need to help them find ways to be more independent to ensure they can enjoy their later years and feel comfortable.
The Benefits Of Elderly Independence
To Feel In Control
Many seniors feel like they lose control as they get older. People assume they can’t do as much as they used to, and their bodies may fail them in certain circumstances, such as a weaker grip or trouble getting around. Enhancing their independence enables them to feel in control again, which is ideal for living a satisfying life and preventing significant mental health challenges that can occur as they get older. While some seniors still struggle to do some things due to various conditions or injuries, many independence solutions can make them feel like nothing has changed.
To Help Their Physical Health
It’s well-known that physical health declines as you get older, but this shouldn’t mean that your elderly relatives accept it. While they may not be able to do as much as they used to, promoting an independent lifestyle still means they can engage in physical activity most of the time. Furthermore, exercise can provide mental health benefits by reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia while also encouraging them to avoid a sedentary lifestyle that could also lead to health issues like obesity or high blood pressure.
To Give Them Purpose
No one wants to feel useless, but this can happen if they lack independence. Since most elderly people have retired and have no one to look after anymore, they might feel like they aren’t needed, which can conjure mental health problems like depression. Maintaining independence helps them find a purpose. Even if they don’t work or have kids to look after, they can still look after themselves. What’s more, they have plenty of time to explore new things, giving them even more purpose.
To Maintain Memory
Memory problems are common in old age, especially if there is no mental stimulation. This is a frequent issue with many seniors as they don’t have the engagement they need to keep their brains fresh, leading to forgetfulness that could be dangerous if they are left alone. By maintaining their independence, they can keep their brain active, improve their memory capability, and ensure they never forget to call or miss a birthday ever again.
To Maintain Their Individualism
Similarly, it can be tricky to maintain individualism if you are forced to rely on others because of old age. Everything that goes into improving independence helps your elderly relatives keep as close to themselves as possible. They will be happy to tackle the same things they used to, such as chores or DIY projects around the house rather than relying on other people. This can keep them happy and give them the chance to prove to themselves (if no one else) that they can still do everything they enjoy doing.
How to Help Elderly Relatives Maintain Their Independence
Help Them With Hobbies
Understanding their favorite activities will help you help your elderly relatives maintain and boost their independence. Just because they’re older doesn’t mean they can’t still do the things that make them happy, whether this is DIY or going for walks around the park.
You can even introduce them to activities more suitable for them in old age, especially if they’re used to playing fast-paced or high-impact sports. Replacing these activities with safer ones still gives them something to look forward to and reduces the risk of serious injury.
Equip Their Home
You can’t be with your parents or grandparents all the time, but you can equip their home with the right tools and accessories to make it easier to get around and avoid injury. This can be as simple as rearranging the furniture so there is more space to walk to installing a railing or ramp so they can get in and out safely.
These are not the only options, either. Smart home solutions can help your relatives save money and control everything in their home from one place so they don’t need to get up as regularly.
Give Them Tools To Take Their Meds Easily
Many seniors require daily medication to balance health issues, but you can’t be there to remind them all the time. Furthermore, seniors wanting more independence don’t want you to call them every day to remind them to take their meds. Instead, you need to find a solution that ensures they take their meds without you needing to remind them.
Daily reminders on their smartphone could work, as could timer medicine boxes that prevent them from taking too much or too little each day. It is also worth exploring blister pack medication pharmacy products to provide a more convenient and reliable way to access their pills whenever they need them.
Help Them Buy Comfy Clothes
Elderly people often prefer comfortable clothes over fashionable items, which is understandable. But they may find it difficult to get into their old clothes, especially if they’ve put on weight or have lost some mobility in their old age.
Finding senior-specific clothing is a great way to ensure they can get dressed by themselves and feel comfortable when they’re dressed. This will also reduce the risk of falls or other injuries, so you can trust them to get ready without your assistance.
Give Them The Chance to Choose
Part of being independent is getting the chance to choose, so you need to allow your relatives to have that power. They don’t want you to make decisions for them. They want to feel like they are part of the process, whether deciding when to visit or just what to have for dinner.
Providing choice (rather than the mere illusion of choice) is a key component for helping them maintain their independence. This will also help them make decisions they know will benefit them so they won’t feel as frustrated with their situation.
Encourage Them to Get A Pet
You’ve already read how seniors need purpose, even if it’s just taking care of themselves. However, a pet is another excellent way for them to feel independent and find purpose, especially if they live alone.
Researching pets for the elderly with them can give them some ideas about how to take care of an animal in old age. This can be a huge benefit for them as it encourages them to get out of bed and even leave the house. Furthermore, they are given unconditional companionship that can prevent isolation and loneliness.
Get Them Out of the House
Pets can help your relatives get out of the house, but they don’t need to have a dog to have an excuse to walk around the park. As mentioned earlier, there are plenty of outdoor activities for seniors which can also introduce them to a new community. You and your kids can also meet them at a park if you live close enough so they can bond with them while also getting fresh air.
They don’t even need to leave their property. Instead, encourage them to get into gardening so they can go outside and make the most of the nice weather.
Secure Their Home
Many children are concerned about their parent’s safety when they get older, especially if you don’t live close enough to respond immediately. This is why home security is so essential. Install security cameras and lights around the property to ensure they are safe. You can also access the video feed to check on them when possible.
Help Them Communicate
The days of waiting for a phone call are long gone. Now, everyone in the family can catch up with each other over smartphones or laptops. Although some smartphones and apps can be too complicated for seniors, there are some fantastic video chat apps they can download and navigate easily to help them stay in touch and feel less lonely.
Work Out A Schedule With Them
Your elderly relatives can benefit from working out a schedule so they have some routine and order in their lives even if they don’t want or need to do a lot. Here, you can remind them when you’re coming to visit or when they need to put the bins out. A schedule makes it easy for them to check every day so they know what they are doing in case they forget, and it also enables them to make their plans if they have the day free.
Everyone needs and deserves to feel independent, especially as you get older and understand that your body is not as capable as it used to be. These tips can help you work with your elderly relatives and find the most effective ways to boost and maintain their independence in old age so they can feel as young and in control as possible.