Independence

How to help your elderly loved one retain their independence

Posted 8th August 2021

Watching a loved one begin to recede into themselves, and the comfort of their home can be a tough thing to see, but one that does sadly often happen with age. Witnessing this can make it easy for you to start micromanaging their lives: buying their food, picking what entertainment they have access to, and taking care of their administrative tasks to name a few things. This might be helpful on the surface, but ultimately it can be detrimental to their mental health. Instead of fully taking over, supporting their wishes and involving them in decisions as much or as little as they like is a helpful middle ground. 
 
Being independent, even in older age, is incredibly important for mental, emotional and physical welfare. Behavioural, physical and financial struggles can see the elderly begin to lose some of their independence, but it is important that it is maintained, as independence is essential in sustaining individuality and purpose in life. Below are some tips on how you can help your aging loved ones remain independent. 
 
Encourage exercise 
Exercise is essential for maintaining good physical health and is one of the best activities to improve mental health too. Encouraging your loved one to stay active will do wonders for their attitude and exploring the local area, getting some fresh air is a great way to spend time together. By taking them on outings or even just into the garden they can get a sense of what the outside world is doing, and it helps them to feel a part of it. Varying their environments, especially to include nature is a wonderful way to promote activity, and keep them aware of their surroundings.
 
Facilitate the learning of a new skill
Introducing your elderly loved one to a new skill or hobby such as painting or reading is a great way to help them maintain their independence. Finding something they enjoy and can do on their own ensures that even when they are alone they are content and enjoying themselves. A new hobby also gives them a sense of purpose and a reason to get up and enjoy the day. Additionally, an artistic new hobby such as drawing or painting gives your loved one the opportunity to express themselves in a way they might not be able to with words, helping them to communicate their needs more effectively, and thus furthering their independence in that area too.
 
Encourage an active social life 
Aiding your elderly relatives in maintaining their social life is a great way of supporting their independence. The social benefits of joining a group, perhaps related to a newfound hobby or something else entirely such as going to church or the library. are immeasurable. Having people outside of your family that your aging relative can confide in and enjoy their time with is key to maintaining their independence. Not only that, but having others that you yourself can rely on to help communicate with your loved one and socialise with them will take some of the weight off of your shoulders too.
 
Create a safety plan
Helping your loved ones retain their independence can be a challenging task, but with the right measures in place you can spend more time enjoying their company than worrying about what might happen when you’re not there. One way to help you feel more at ease is installing aids into their home in the form of handle rails or bars, bigger light switches or installing a form of call button so you can be alerted if an accident occurs. With modern technology you no longer have to stay in the dark about what your loved one gets up to when you’re not around. Plus, devices such as Facebook portal or Google nest hub allow you to communicate with your loved one around the clock if need be. 
 
Invest in a qualified and dedicated carer 
One way of covering all of these tips is to invest in a live-in carer for your relative. Live-in carers enable your loved ones to live safely and securely in their own homes, allowing you to relax a little more. Almost 99% of older people do not want to go into a care home, live-in care is the perfect solution. It allows your loved one to remain independent, gives them invaluable socialisation and helps keep them safe from harm. Not only that, but live-in care gives families some much needed respite from looking after elderly loved ones, allowing you to enjoy your time with them rather than just persisting through it.

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