Maintaining a healthy level of independence can do wonders for seniors’ mental and physical health.
In a survey of Americans 65 and up, a staggering 90% stated that they wished to stay in their homes for at least the next five to 10 years. Another poll conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) revealed that “80% of seniors prefer to grow old in their own homes rather than enter an institutional setting.”
Why is independence so important for aging Americans? What can you and your family do to ensure that you retain as much independence as possible as you age?
The Mental And Physical Benefits of Independence
Independence affords tremendous benefits to seniors. Studies show that independence can have a wide range of positive effects, including:
- Faster healing times. Seniors who retain a greater sense of independence heal faster. Researchers postulate that successfully going about their daily routines boosts mental health, which in turn benefits the immune system and reduces chronic inflammation.
- A greater sense of self. When seniors have a marked influence on their day-to-day activities and/or the extent of their home health care services, they fare better emotionally. Making decisions helps aging U.S. men and women feel more self-sufficient and reduces the likelihood of irritability, depression, anger, and anxiety.
- More strength and physical activity. This perk is pretty straightforward. If you get up and move around more, you maintain more physical fitness. Even small movements contribute to overall physical well-being, which makes intentional exercise, like walking, gardening, yoga, and modified weight lifting, easier to do and easier to stick to.
- Independence fosters meaning. One of the biggest predictors of happiness and longevity is having a sense of meaning. Retaining as much independence as possible helps seniors carve out a sense of meaning and purpose. They must make their own decisions, set their own schedule, and determine their own preferred activities.
What Can You Do To Buoy Your Independence?
While being independent has several marked benefits, there are some obstacles to seniors living entirely independently. With some key adjustments, seniors and their families can overcome those obstacles and live as independently as possible. Here is a breakdown of some of the most common ones:
- Hire a home care aide. Home care aides and/or home care aides acting as part of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP programs) provide essential care while allowing seniors to live at home and maintain independence. Home care aides can make meals, help with personal hygiene, help with scheduling and appointments, and be there to ascertain that seniors–who are especially prone to loneliness and depression–have regular and reliable companionship on a day-to-day basis. Aides can do as much or as little as you or your loved one requires.
- When it comes to transportation, plan ahead. Are you or your loved one able to drive? Do you have any limitations when it comes to driving? The answers to these questions can help you determine transportation needs. If you need transportation to and from appointments or to and from the grocery store, there are several professional services that can help you. These options are available to help you get what you need when you need it and prevent transportation from getting in the way of your independence.
- Make home safety modifications. Upgrade the bathroom with safety bars next to the toilet and tub and non-slip coating on the floor. Assistive seating (equipment that helps seniors get in and out of chairs on their own) and voice assistants also help tremendously. Voice assistants help makes things simpler–turning lights on and off and remotely controlling the TV. Plus, they can provide reminders for appointments and medications and reach medical or emergency services hands-free if necessary.
Every year, more Americans are aging. By 2060, estimates project that 100 million U.S. men and women will be at least 65 years old. Secure independence for you or your loved one with professional care services and key adjustments around the home.
Special Touch caregivers are certified paraprofessionals. Before they hit the ground running, they go through an extensive screening process. We dig deep into their background to make sure they are someone that we would trust to take care of our own parents and grandparents. This includes criminal background checks, drug screening, and also professional and personal reference checks.