How to Support the Elderly Maintain Their Independence

Getting old is a privilege denied to many, and for the fortunate among us, we will see life right into old age. However, that does not mean this comes without its own set of issues. As we get older, our mental and physical health can decline – it is just the price many of us pay for aging, but there is no need to let that strip the elderly of their independence.

How to Support the Elderly Maintain Their Independence
[ image: pexels by lina kavika ]

Many older adults can still experience an excellent quality of life, the only thing is, they might need a little help adjusting in some areas and perhaps need a little more support than they may have before.

 Whether you have supported an elderly loved one before or not, it can be difficult to know where to start. It is also important to bear in mind that everyone is different, so what might work for you and your loved one might not work for others in a similar situation.

With that in mind, this piece will give you some guidance on how you might be able to support the elderly in maintaining their independence.

Why is it Important That the Elderly Maintain Independence?

As many aspects of their life begin to change, it could very well be that independence is the only control that the elderly feel like they have over their lives, which is why it is crucial to support them in maintaining it. On top of that, there are plenty more benefits that seniors can experience, such as strength and balance, helping memory skills, and helping them to feel like an individual with a sense of purpose.

Plan Together

You might have some great ideas as to how you can make your elderly loved one’s life easier, but for them to maintain independence, they must have as much say as possible when it comes to planning adjustments in their life.

Have an honest discussion about the limitations you might face together and also how they would like to be supported when they need help. It is important to bear in mind that this could be for both physical and cognitive support and that whatever is agreed upon needs to be realistic for both parties. 

Encourage Physical Activity

When we get older, it is natural that we slow down. And while some of us will slow down more than others, it is important that we encourage physical activity as much as possible and at an appropriate level. Physical activity does not even necessarily mean exercise in the most obvious sense, though that is very beneficial too, remaining physical is an important part of maintaining strength and balance, which is crucial to maintaining independence.

Without balance and strength, the general duties that are done around the house might become more difficult, or in worst-case scenarios, older adults losing their balance could result in a nasty fall which could take a long time to recover from or find that assisted living is the next best option.

Memory Improvement

Maintaining the memory is a crucial part of maintaining independence. While it is true that your memory can be impaired with age, there are means of improving memory retention and health. There are plenty of ways in which you can support the elderly to help keep their memory in good shape. 

A great way to both help and also have some quality time together includes learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby. When the elderly begin a new hobby or take up learning a new skill, it helps the brain to stave off brain-related aging issues such as dementia, which can make independence more difficult for those who have it.

Games such as puzzles and jigsaws are also a brilliant way of improving memory and keeping those brain neurons firing! Often, these types of games are great for getting all ages involved, which is why they are solid options for families when spending time together while supporting their older loved ones.

Remember to Look After Yourself

You cannot pour from an empty cup and supporting people can be especially draining when they rely on you, so you must accept support yourself or know when to take a step back and let others help. There are quality assisted living communities available such as which can help your loved ones enjoy the lifestyle they deserve with someone always looking out for them, ready to help.

Take it Slow

It is easy to want to jump straight in when we see a loved one struggling, but while we might be expecting the worse, it could just be an off day for them. If they need help once or twice, it does not automatically mean they will need help all the time, so make sure to stand back and observe to see if they need help or if they can do it by themselves.

Allowing them to try everything first as long as they are not at risk will help them foster their independence. It is also important not to become an enabler if you want your loved ones to stay independent, as taking over not only means they will not continue to do the things they usually do, but they might also start to believe that they are not capable of doing things either, which could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Take it Slow

When things start to change for your elderly loved one, it can be difficult not to focus on the tasks they can no longer do. However, that negative mindset can be limiting and might make your loved ones feel less capable than they are. Focusing on their abilities will keep apositive mindset for both of you and will help them feel empowered despite the changes they are now facing.

 It is also important for them to feel like the support they are receiving from others is empowering, and helping them continue a modified version of the way of life that they are used to, rather than a hindrance or feeling like they are a burden in any way.

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