Why independence is important for seniors

senior couple on couch watching tv

And how they can keep it

Remember when you were excited to grow up and be independent, making your own life decisions?  Oh, those rites of passage— wearing makeup or shaving. That was a long time ago and the memories are indelible.

Now, fast forward to today— for seniors, milestones have been reached and independence remains closely held. The ebb and flow of life have shown that with every freedom enjoyed, there is a price. Buying your first home, the ultimate freedom, you discovered the real cost of homeownership. The same goes for your shiny new car. Or those adorable children you raised. In retrospect, these freedoms came at a cost that a naive teen who couldn’t wait to shave or wear makeup couldn’t possibly fathom. 

Whether you’re on your way to puberty or a senior winding down after retirement, one thing remains constant: Independence, regardless of age, holds meaning that only you can appreciate.

Independence provides seniors with a sense of purpose. It has paved their life-path with opportunities for achievement. They’ve helped the lives of family and friends while enjoying activities that they love. That’s the freedom that no senior wants to lose.

Maintaining independence is a life goal, regardless of age. The ability to make choices throughout one’s life has a big impact on how seniors feel about themselves. When they are no longer making their own decisions, the loss of independence can be devastating, often causing isolation, leading to hopelessness and depression. 

Like the surprises, or costs, of freedom and independence, seniors discovered they could rest assured that living independently in their senior years will offer the same  While we cannot avoid some barriers to independence, we can take the time to understand the importance of independence for seniors and look for ways to increase opportunities to live independently. 

Here are four of the most important consideration for seniors to continue their independence:

1. Stay strong With the natural aging process comes challenges to independence. Mobility is a good example—losing your mobility is a sure way to lose independence. Walking, using hand weights and bicycling are fun and easy to do, with surprising results that keep strength optimized when done consistently. Retaining balance and strength is a huge determining factor in someone’s ability to remain independent. It also motivates older adults to stay active, which may result in health benefits that foster independence.

If strength is not routinely worked on, an aging person can likely lose muscle mass and core balance. Loss of strength and balance can lead to dangerous falls that leave a senior hospitalized or in a care facility to recuperate. Injuries from falls challenge seniors to maintain their independence.

2. Get involved; find a purpose
Get out of the house to volunteer, attend a church group or even visit family. Volunteering is a gift for seniors, as it fulfills a need for socialization while helping others.

3. Keep memory loss at bay
Seniors work hard to be independent. Being proactive to slow memory loss is one of the best gifts a senior can give to themselves to prolong their independence.

Daily routines help promote both memory and independence. While physical activity helps keep your body in shape, mentally stimulating activities help keep your brain in shape — and might keep memory loss at bay. Try crossword puzzles. Play cards. Take different routes when driving. Learn new things. Volunteering will help, too.  

Keeping memory sharp can also help prevent falling prey to a scammer. 

4. Plan for tomorrow
One of the quickest ways seniors can lose their independence is by a fall. There are many ways to “fall-proof” your home to limit the likelihood of falling. By addressing home safety before you display any mobility issues, why not get a free home safety assessment from SYNERGY HomeCare to get an idea of how to remove safety hazards?  They assess your home for potential “slip areas,”  make recommendations for bathroom safety, and may even suggest rearranging your furniture. They use a safety checklist that contains over inspection points. Being proactive with safety is akin to an insurance policy—it’s there if you need it.  

A simple suggestion as having a phone charger in every room may save you from a fall one day.

There will be a day when you’ll need an extra hand around the house. You might need someone to prepare meals for you or to change linens or even do the laundry. If you’ve given up driving, you’ll need someone to take you to the doctor or the grocery store. Having help at home is a wonderful way to remain independent in the home that you love. This is another example of the cost of freedom and it’s well worth it.

What are the benefits of having help at home to remain independent?

Independence is the secret of longevity for seniors. Being able to remain in your own home as you age has a multitude of perks. Plus, it truly eclipses the thought of assisted living facilities, rehabs and nursing homes.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness – A study published by the American Journal of Medicine shows patients who received home care after hospital discharge could save roughly $6,500 over the course of a year and decreased the risk of readmission and death. For others who require daily assistance, the flexibility of in-home care to meet personal and individual needs allows individuals the opportunity to receive care part-time or full-time or for respite care.
  2. Individualized Attention and Care – Traditional caregiving institutions do not compare to the one-on-one attention that in-home care offers. While caregivers are attending to several individuals at once in a facility, in-home caregivers are responsible for one individual. Time, energy, and attention are focused on one person who can provide companionship and improve social interaction – which plays an essential role in the overall quality of life.
  3. Maintaining Independence – People value their independence, especially those of us who are creeping up in age. Many individuals who require assistance in daily living feel the stress and anxiety of being unable to care for themselves independently. In-home care helps maintain a sense of control over their lives and offers more freedom while still having the support of a caregiver to assist with many tasks and chores that cannot be done otherwise. Those who require less assistance typically opt for in-home care as opposed to reducing their level of independence.
  4. Familiarity – People with Alzheimer’s and dementia function better with familiarity and routine. Being able to stay in the same neighborhood, wake up in the same home, and follow the same routines can be valuable to individuals who suffer from cognitive disorders.
  5. Maintaining Connections – Independence is not the only thing that individuals maintain when they receive in-home care. They are allowed to maintain relationships and connections with those around them. They can stay involved in spiritual/religious communities, keep connections with local service providers and healthcare professionals and places of familiarity that they enjoy.
  6. Keeping Pets – Assisted living facilities, rehabs and nursing homes do not allow the individual the opportunity to keep beloved family pets or get new pets. Owning pets can reduce anxiety, stress and depression. It can also contribute to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and even help improve physical activity. While many caregiving options take away the opportunity to own pets, in-home care can help care for the pet.
  7. Comfort – Of all of the benefits that in-home care provides, comfort is probably the biggest. Peoples’ homes are a safe place for them, holding security and precious memories. Having that safety and comfort alone can help reduce anxiety and depression.
  8. Reduce Caregiver Burnout – Family members responsible for the care of a loved one often suffer from caregiver burnout. Not only are they responsible for their own families and jobs, but they carry the weight of making sure that their loved one is safe and that their needs are met. In-home care helps take that extraordinary pressure off family members and reassures them that their loved ones are provided for and safe.  

No matter your age or abilities, being independent and living in the home you love will keep you healthier, both cognitively and physically. When the time comes, asking for help is an easy way to keep your independence and happiness.