What does independence mean to you? When you were younger, it might have meant getting your own house key, your first car or a great job that gave you enough money to make your own choices.
As you get older, the meaning of independence may change but it remains important to you. After all, you’ve made your own decisions for years. Some decisions were big, like who to marry or where to live. Others were small but still yours – like what to wear or what to have for dinner.
So how do you maintain independence as you get older? Here are 5 tips.
1. Have the right support at hand
Paradoxically, part of the answer to staying independent lies in accepting when you need help. As one 92-year-old research participant receiving home help services explains,
I shower myself, they help me dry…. Well I’m living in my own home but I can’t do things with my arms. I’ve no strength in them and this sort of thing so I can’t make my bed. I can’t push a vacuum or anything like that. So these are the things that I need help with. But I’m a terribly independent person.
Sometimes, accepting help frees you from draining chores so you can have more energy for the things you enjoy. As a 79-year-old explains,
…the energy that I used to waste with trying to shop and cook, it’s taken from me now, I don’t have to do that, I only have to think about breakfast or tea and that’s easy.
Support can come from many sources – family, friends or professional in-home carers.
In-home care aims to keep you safe and well in your home so you can live independently and be connected to your community. Trained carers provide a range of services according to your needs, such as personal care (showering and dressing), household chores and maintenance, and transport to and from appointments and activities.
With that taken care of, you can spend your time on things that bring you joy and satisfaction. Family relationships may also become more enjoyable because you’re spending quality time together rather than managing personal care or getting tired out by errands.
2. Stay active and social
Social connections make a significant difference to your health and well-being. Good social connections can:
- Strengthen your immune function
- Lower your anxiety levels
- Ease depression
- Improve your self-esteem.
Yes, it takes effort to go out – but it’s definitely worth it.
There are many ways to build social connections into your life. You could joint a lunch club or a walking group, meet friends for a movie or volunteer at a community group.
Physical activity also helps to promote your independence. You could join a seniors exercise class or meet friends for a walk in the park.
3. Be proactive about your health
Once your health starts to decline, it becomes harder to maintain your independence. So be proactive. Get your hearing and eyesight checked regularly – it may help prevent falls or other injuries. If you’re on medication, take it regularly as prescribed by your doctor and attend any check-ups.
4. Take time to learn new tech
Your grandchildren grew up surrounded by technology and are probably always using a gadget of some kind. But what about you?
There are many benefits for seniors in learning how to use digital technology like smartphones and tablets, such as:
- Social connections – video call friends and family who live far away
- Brain stimulation – learning new things is good for your cognitive function.
- Entertainment – access shows and games
- Access to digital healthcare –
- Enjoy the convenience of telehealth consultations with your doctor
- Your smartphone can connect to wearable technologies that measure your blood sugar, heart rate or blood pressure and send the data to your doctor for view.
5. Readjust your mindset
At the beginning, we asked what independence means to you.
It doesn’t have to mean doing everything yourself. In fact, none of us are independent by that definition. We’re all interdependent – we rely on each other.
If independence means staying in your own home as long as you can, then it makes sense to accept help to maintain that independence.
How can Focused Health Care help?
Focused Health Care is operated by Registered Nurses who have extensive experience in providing in-home care, meaning that we uniquely understand your needs.
We have no wait lists, meaning that you can get started quickly, and we run a 24/7 phone line so that help is available when you need it.
Most of all, we’re organised around you. We tailor our services to meet your personal needs, goals and aspirations.
If you’d like to explore how you could benefit from in-home care, then please request an obligation-free phone call today.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.