When it comes to getting older, there is no argument against the importance of living independently and with dignity. Of course, life and day to day activities can get a little more complicated or troublesome with age, though with the right lifestyle-enhancing products and services, and the right help at home independent living can be a breeze.
It is also important to keep in mind that independent living is also key to improved mental health as you age, given that there is less of a reliance on others to undertake everyday tasks.
With all of this in mind, we have some tidbits on the importance of staying independent as you age and what you can do for yourself, or an older loved one to improve their level of independence.
Why Independence is Important for Older People
Off the top, losing the ability to be independent in life can feel quite demeaning and defeating to a lot of people, and so losing this control of one’s lifestyle can be something that is upsetting and may even form mental health issues and more.
As you will agree, older adults have spent their whole life working, raising families and of course living independently, and so losing all of this might be something that is quite troublesome.
One thing to keep in mind is that the natural effects of getting older will typically make living independently a little harder, though there are a few things that can be done to improve this, or at least assist with living in a non-obtrusive way.
To end, independence is an innate human attribute that makes a happy life and freedom within easy reach, and as this slowly fades, it can become a major problem from both a safety standpoint, but also a happiness one too.
Individuality is Maintained with Independence
In line with happiness, one other key attribute that independence brings is a sense of individuality and with it, the chance to make decisions on one’s own.
When an older person is unable to make choices on their own given that they are unable to be entirely independent, there is a major loss of that feeling of individuality and the control of their own lives.
As you might expect, after 60 years or more of making choices that are entirely someone’s own, losing this ability to do what you want would be quite crushing, and having to rely on a caregiver for almost all assistance may result in anxiety, depression or even anger which can be detrimental for all parties involved in someone’s care.
A tip to keeping on top of these feelings is ensuring that older adults have the chance to be as mobile and hands-on with the spaces that they are in. A lot of aged care facilities, such as Kew Gardens have worked to ensure that through the design of spaces, their residents are able to remain as independent as possible and thus combat a lot of the effects of losing this independence.
Independence and Strength and Fitness Go Hand in Hand
Another key point to keep in mind is that staying independent is tied heavily to health and fitness.
As we age we, of course, become a little more frail and unable to undertake certain tasks unless something is done about this process – such as fitness and exercise.
With fitness, strength and independence in tandem, these can be used to motivate and affect the other activity, for example, reminding your loved ones that keeping fit and healthy enables independence and independence enables the ability to stay fit and healthy.
Again, in many aged care homes, there is a profound focus on health and fitness to ensure residents have the muscle capacity and agility to be as independent as possible and simply go about their daily lives with little to no extra help at all.
Independence Improves Sense of Purpose
Along with freedoms, keeping fit and healthy and maintaining one’s ability to do what they want, there is an improved sense of purpose.
When an older adult loses their ability to be independent there is a feeling of isolation which can snowball into loneliness and depression which may then affect a myriad of processes in the body creating a quality of life that is exceedingly low.
Added to this, with a sense of purpose there is an outcome for older adults which can include contributing to their own care, as well as the lifestyles of their families and friends in their street or the centre they’re living within.
This is essentially allowing an older person to be an active member of their community and keeps spirits as high as possible as they get older.
Keeping the above in mind, it is vitally important to keep as fit as possible and to work on ensuring you’re able to be as independent in your old age as possible. Of course, there are aged care facilities that foster these independent lifestyles, though it is still a great idea to keep health and fitness and top priority as you age to ensure you’re not going to reduce your chances of being independent as you get older.
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