by Nirvana
A Business for Social Change
Cost Effective New Housing for the Elderly & Persons With Disabilites
Independence in later years

Independence in later years

By the time we’re adults, most humans have achieved at least some level of independence. When we refer to independence, it is generally meant having autonomy over your own life. At the fundamental level, this is decision-making or choosing how we want to live our lives. Driving yourself to work or cooking your own meals, or general tasks that most of us take for granted.

As we approach our elderly years, our independence is increasingly under threat. More help may be required to carry out everyday tasks due to a decline in mobility, capacity and health. So, more than ever, it’s important that we retain independence not just for us but for those around us moving into old age.

Decreasing independence can not only make everyday tasks difficult, but it can also lead to increased feelings of isolation or loneliness. It can also lead to a greater financial burden, particularly if you need to pay for a cleaner or order pre-prepared meals. Independence is directly tied to levels of self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as feelings of self-worth.

Studies show that 97% of people would prefer to remain in their own home in their elderly years than move into residential care. Should the latter become a necessity, it’s vital to continue to allow the resident as much freedom as possible. Involving them in decision-making on meals and social activities is crucial. As too is choosing their own clothes and jewellery.

If they are unable to complete a task, such as baking a cake, for example, allow them to perform as much as they possibly can before assisting. Try to also familiarise yourself with their life story as much as possible as this can inform any decisions they choose to make.

Decision-making is not restricted to just their own lives. It is key to continue including elderly family members in family decisions. Particularly when they no longer work, it’s too easy for their daily sense of purpose to slip away. Setting goals with your elderly family member or friend can also increase or maintain their sense of purpose. Maybe you can time challenge them on the daily crossword or gift them an iPad or jigsaw puzzle. Or you can go out walking together and make an aim to complete an hour each day. Little goals will keep them motivated and challenged on a daily basis.

Should they wish to remain at home instead of moving into residential care, you can help with home modifications to ensure they retain their independent living. Perhaps you can help them to find a part-time carer or support worker, or arrange for a rota of family members to visit and help with daily tasks.

Maybe physical modifications can be made, such as installing a handrail for the bath or adding a stair lift or access ramps. Even small changes to the home can ensure their independence.

As ever, make sure you keep up communication with the elderly person involved. There is no better way to keep independence than by, ultimately, having the final say on how your future years will look.