One of the most challenging aspects of ageing is the loss of independence that comes with changes to mobility, cognitive functions, and social circles. However, maintaining this independence while ageing is incredibly important for overall well-being and quality of life.
That is why seniors need to be empowered to preserve their independence, allowing them to retain a sense of control, purpose, and vitality. Fortunately, we have provided seven effective tips to promote independence while ageing to adapt for any senior.
1. Encourage Active Living
Firstly, encouraging seniors to remain physically active is one of the best ways of maintaining their independence. This is because regular activities, especially those tailored to suit elderly individuals and their specific needs, can enhance strength, balance, and flexibility. In turn, this reduces the risk of falls and injuries, while also improving overall health.
Some physical activities suited for elderly individuals and improving their health include:
The most important thing is that seniors find their chosen activity enjoyable, as they are more likely to continue the physical exercise and maintain their independence.
2. Foster Mental Stimulation
The physical aspects of a senior’s well-being are not the only part that needs to be regularly exercised for the maintenance of independence. Stimulating the mind is just as important to help maintain cognitive functions and clarity of self, allowing seniors to face any challenges in their lives with confidence.
Mental stimulation is enacted through activities such as:
Learning new skills
Conversing with others
Learning a language
Seniors who regularly stimulate their brains are likely to have higher levels of self-esteem and find themselves more adventurous in life. These factors contribute to their overall sense of independence.
3. Support Healthy Eating Habits
Eating healthily has numerous benefits, but its significance extends into maintaining independence when considered in relation to seniors. That is because supporting healthy eating habits enhances the overall health and well-being of a senior, improving their energy levels and keeping their body’s strength levels up.
Healthy eating habits include regular access to well-balanced meals, sufficient hydration, and avoiding processed foods. By following these simple guidelines, seniors can retain their vitality to exercise autonomy and enjoy their daily lives.
4. Foster Safety and Accessibility at Home
Beyond personal means of taking care of themselves, seniors’ independence can be strengthened by altering their environment. Specifically, adapting their home to create a safe and accessible environment that promotes living independently.
A home can become safe and accessible for seniors by:
Keeping the space hazard-free
Making sure the home is well-lit in all rooms
Installing handrails on stairs
Non-slip surfaces are applied to areas with water sources
Installing grab rails in the bathroom
Rearranging furniture to support mobility
Adapting a senior’s space to their specific needs will allow them to enjoy a greater sense of autonomy and reablement. This will boost their confidence and allow them to handle any daily tasks and movements with ease. Even if this process is not possible at home, reablement and independence are still encouraged in aged care. Learn more about reablement in aged care here and how seniors’ safety and accessibility are fostered in these facilities.
5. Encourage Social Engagement
Social connections are vital across all stages of life, but particularly for seniors looking to retain their independence. This is because social activities and communication provide purpose to daily life, while creating connections that will help a senior remain independent.
While facilitating regular visits from family or friends is an easy way to maintain social engagement for seniors, there are alternate sources they can look to. Signing up to social activities such as hobby groups or sports can foster new connections and also promote physical exercise. Alternately, volunteering with community groups gives seniors goals and allows them to meet a range of new people.
Seniors should also be encouraged to enjoy the world around them, including the sights and sounds of their city. Age should not prevent people from having fun and continuing to enjoy the activities or hobbies they once loved. Heading out into social events is also the perfect time to meet up with loved ones and find chances to reconnect with old friends.
Regular contact with others creates a communal web of communication that promotes a sense of belonging and combats feelings of isolation. Seniors will feel more confident in themselves and their abilities when they have others to support them.
6. Facilitate Access to Supportive Services
With age comes the need for supportive services in order to maintain independence. Having the aid of professional service in areas such as transportation and healthcare ensures the optimal well-being of a senior. It also grants them the independence to decide their own daily schedules and perform a range of tasks.
Access to such services is facilitated by keeping seniors up to date on community and available services for their needs. They can gain access when set up with appropriate technology such as email or social media, as well as contact with their community network.
Knowing where to access help or information encourages self-reliance and autonomy, especially when it comes to seeking assistance when needed.
7. Empower Decision-Making and Autonomy
Independence is best maintained when the senior in question is respected and encouraged to make their own decisions. Empowering their autonomy is as simple as involving them in decisions about their own lives, health, and daily activities. By taking charge of their own life, seniors can enjoy their independence and foster a greater sense of self-worth.
Independence is Within Reach
Maintaining independence as we age is not only achievable but vital for the well-being and quality of life of seniors. By following these seven tips, and working with seniors on how they want to take charge of their lives, independence in older adults is significantly improved.
Living a fulfilling and autonomous life is what preserves a person’s sense of self. For seniors, however, independence also contributes to a vibrant and empowered ageing process. Here, it is possible to grow older with dignity and grace.