Independence is what we crave from the first time we go someplace without our parents to getting our drivers license. It is one way we mark milestones in our lives. As we age, the milestones are less exciting and can signal a decline of independence. Below are some ways to maintain independence as we or a loved one ages.
Safety around the house
Determine if aging in place is an option for you and if it is what you want. Make alternate plans now in case something arises that prevents you from aging in place. It never hurts to have a backup plan, so check out the senior living options in your area.
While living in your own home, take an honest look at what needs to be done around the house, make a plan, and get started on repairs. Get your home ready by adding a few new features to ensure your safety like a shower bar. If you don’t get around a well as you use to and have stairs in your home, install a chair lift.
Everyone needs help seeing in dark hallways, so install lights if you don’t have them, make sure you have working bulbs, and add a motion sensor night light. Poor lighting is a hazard so evaluate the lighting throughout the house and make sure all switches work and are easily accessible. Install motion lights out side for safety and security.
Clean Up, Clean out, and Organize
Clean up and clean out then organize. Paper is clutter that accumulates in everyone’s home. Go through all the paper work in the house room by room. Keep important papers, financial documents, and product manuals that you need. Shred or recycle all the papers that you no longer need. Organize the papers that you keep in files and store them in one place. This will eliminate problems later and eliminate clutter.
Take a good look around the home, if you don’t use, it consider giving it to a family member or friend to enjoy. You can also donate to a local charity or thrift shop. Clutter limits movement and can make your home unsafe. Make sure all pathways through the home are clear and wide enough to easily pass through. Need help not sure where to start? Contact a professional organizer in your area.
Get organized. Move items that you use on a daily basis to lower shelves to make them more accessible. Easy Access to belongings reduces the need to over extend to reach for everyday items. Move or rearrange furniture so that it is not in the way and it does not hinder your path through the home.
Technology is often associated with independence by the younger population but it can mean independence as we age as well. A cellphone does not require that you use it in the same way teenagers do. But cellphones can help to ensure your safety as you age. Even if you don’t use it keep it on you for emergencies; preset favorites as speed dials for easy use.
Tablets are easier to navigate than smart phones because they have larger screens making it easier to see. Set up video call apps on the tablet. Now a call to check in is more like a visit. Loneliness is a concern for many seniors but technology can help combat it. Home assistants can also help you stay connected with family. Wearable technology such as smart watches and emergency pendants can detect falls and notify loved ones automatically.
Staying active helps to keep you social. Some low impact options include flowing and stretching exercises that help to restore balance and flexibility. Try T’ai Chi or Yoga. Walking improves balance strength and endurance. Join a walking group or head out with a friend. Being active will help to keep you socially active, which will combat loneliness which is among the most serious challenges that seniors face.