Seniors and the Importance of Their Continued Independence
by Jess Walter - Freelance Writer
The average lifespan worldwide is roughly 71 years, but actually, people are living much longer. It is no longer unusual to see people living well into their 90s and even to 100 and beyond. This is thanks to ever-improving health care and medical breakthroughs. Despite this, seniors still worry about losing their independence.
It’s not easy getting old and although more seniors than ever enjoy excellent health and the ability to stay just as active as they were when they were younger, the fear is still there. Let’s look at ways to ease those fears and help even seniors having trouble to stay as independent as possible.
Why Is Independence So Important?
Seniors can't control the fact they're ageing, that their eyesight and hearing may be failing or that they can't get around as easily as they used to.
It has a lot to do with dignity and control. Many of them spent their lives taking care of others and are loathe to have to ask for help taking care of themselves. Their independence is something they feel they can still control. This is a perfectly normal way to feel, but left unabated can lead to depression and anxiety. That's why the first and the best thing you can do to reassure a senior is keep an open line of communication.
Let them know they can talk about anything and even more important that they'll be heard and listened to. Next, examine the most common ways seniors lose independence and how to respond.
For many of us being able to drive was the ultimate in expressing our independence.
Driving tends to be one of the first things seniors have trouble with. Whether we like it or not, a time comes when driving just isn’t safe anymore, whether it’s due to vision issues, reduced reflexes, cognitive decline or other medical issues.
Some seniors are excellent drivers well into their 80s while others find they need to give up their keys much sooner. If your loved one has to give up driving, chances are they won’t without a fight. Reassure them that you’ll make sure they can go anywhere they want. If you can’t do it, get them hooked up with a local senior ride program that they can call whenever they need to go somewhere, or even give them an Uber or Lyft account you’ll pay for.
Living at Home
Many seniors are terrified at the thought of being “put in a home” but there may come a time when living on their own becomes difficult or even dangerous, either because they’ve become a fall risk, or have cognitive issues that have made them forgetful.
It’s not easy to tell a loved one they can’t live alone anymore, but there are solutions.
A family member can move in with them or have them move in, or home health aids can be of assistance. An assisted living community is another option. Unlike a nursing home, residents live in their own apartments and can be as independent as possible, yet still have medical assistance and home aid close by. Assure your loved one that you will do everything you can to ensure their daily schedule and way of life will be disrupted as little as possible.
Independence is a hard subject to tackle with seniors but done with care, love and respect, it can be accomplished and reassure them that their independence will always remain a priority, even if they need a little help. Sometimes that’s all they need to hear.
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