Our physical well-being and independence are crucial components of our lives that allow us to take care of ourselves and enjoy a fruitful existence. Not only is our physical autonomy required when moving around and performing household tasks, but it also allows us to partake in a wide variety of daily activities and have fun with those dear to us.
As we age, changes to our physical health might prevent us from having the autonomy we once enjoyed. For senior citizens, losing independence means much more than just being idle. It can lead to further medical complications, including physical health care issues and compromised emotional well-being.
What does independence mean to seniors?
For seniors, maintaining independence means having the opportunity to make decisions on lifestyle choices. Enjoying a reliable level of independence as we age allows us to spend quality time with our loved ones, perform physical exercises, and take care of personal matters.
Why is it important to promote independence in the elderly?
Physical independence is important for seniors because for most people, autonomy is a valuable aspect of our character. If we are not able to continue with the way we have become accustomed to living, we risk losing our sense of identity.
Regaining a sense of individuality
Our mood, identity, and self-esteem are intrinsically tied to our ability to make choices throughout the day. Losing the capacity to manage meaningful decisions can have a negative effect on a person’s mental health. Unfortunately, this can lead to depression, anger, and other forms of self-damaging behavior, such as substance abuse.
Maintaining physical fitness
Staying physically active is the best way to retain balance and strength. Physical activity is highly beneficial to people of all ages. A physically active 65-year-old person has a better chance of enjoying a productive old age than a sedentary 50-year-old.
Losing the capacity to partake in daily activities and perform common household chores doesn’t give muscles the opportunity to stretch and work, eventually leading to a loss in strength and flexibility. Poor physical health can also lead to a loss of balance, which can cause a dangerous fall.
A fall or a similar accident can even have fatal consequences for senior citizens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 30 million falls are reported among older adults each year in the U.S. Out of these, more than 30,000 result in the patient’s death. It is estimated that one in four older adults will experience a fall. This makes accidental falls among seniors a major public health concern (source).
What are some fall prevention strategies?
Living a more purposeful life
Losing independence leads to inability to pursue goals and enjoy hobbies, and can even diminish a person’s ability to relate to others. Isolation can cause someone to feel empty and hopeless.
Independent living helps seniors attain a sense of purpose. Adaptive seating allows senior citizens to participate in the activities of daily living alongside their families, friends, and neighbors. Additionally, a sturdy mobility chair gives the person freedom of movement to pursue several engaging activities, such as arts and crafts or operating a workshop in the garage.
Independence keeps elderly people at home longer
The idea of changing a loved one’s place of residence might become an issue as they grow older. But home health care can offer benefits to senior citizens and their families. Independence at home brings comfort. It enables seniors to enjoy life at their own pace and helps them plan their days according to their own needs and desires. Independent living at home means that senior citizens will not feel unsafe, lonely, or abandoned by their loved ones.
An independent life gives you peace of mind
Independent living isn’t just good for your body. It can also boost brain function. For example, sticking to a healthy daily routine can prevent the deterioration of memory.
According to scientific research, there is an association between mental health and physical activity in older adults. Evidence suggests that keeping active in old age can foster resilience to psychologically distressing conditions such as depression and anxiety (source).
Independent living is more financially sound
The costs of senior care, especially those related to nursing homes, can be exceptionally high. Assisting seniors to live at home by empowering their independence has a considerably lower cost than having to rely on institutions for their well-being.
How can you promote independence in the elderly?
1. Safe-proof your home
You can avoid many situations that could potentially cause a senior to lose their independence by making some adjustments to their living space. Commonly used home spaces like the shower or a staircase can become a major hazard if a person struggles to keep their balance. Implementing safety modifications such as grab rails and ramps can create a living environment that protects the safety of yourself and your family.
2. Acquire adaptive seating equipment
A wheelchair can be restrictive and has many disadvantages. If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to occupy one, then you know how hard it is to handle, steer, and move around on your own. And securing a wheelchair in a stationary position can be complicated. People whose mobility has been diminished by their age or physical condition might not be able to operate the chair’s brakes, causing a feeling of unease and uncertainty even when sitting still.
A specialized clinical chair can affect the way a person with reduced mobility interacts with the world. REAL Adult lift chairs have a modular design capable of adapting to the lifestyle and daily needs of any individual. The chairs feature powered controls, a tilt mechanism, a backrest, and brakes. All of these can be easily adjusted while seated, creating an enhanced sense of safety, handling, and convenience.
3. Incentivize quality social time
As we age, the good moments with our friends and family become more precious. Arranging special dates or times of the day to be together with loved ones can improve the mental health of seniors, helping them stay sharp, mindful and looking forward to the future.
Engaging activities that senior citizens can participate in when enjoying their independence include:
- Arts and crafts
- Book clubs
- Indoor gardening
- Solving puzzles
- Chair exercises
4. Help seniors change their priorities
Individuals who are currently reaching old age have lived in a time where being self-sufficient and a provider to others was seen as prestigious and a sign of success. Nonetheless, the time has come for them to pass the torch, which could leave them feeling sad, empty, useless, and without purpose.
Senior citizens must grapple with altering their life perspective to adapt to new circumstances. They have gone from being responsible for others to learning how to just appreciate and enjoy the company of people without any responsibilities attached. This is not usually an easy change to accept. If someone you care about is dealing with this situation, the best course of action is to treat them with the love and respect they deserve. Let them know they are not a burden, and that the relationship you have with them is more valuable than anything else they could provide, then or now.
5. Encourage decision-making
The French novelist and philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, explained human nature in one simple phrase: “We are our choices.” Every day we make many choices, from the clothes we wear to the food we eat and even the people and places we like to visit.
As senior citizens age and their physical activity diminishes, so does their opportunity to choose how they want to live their lives. By providing your aging loved one with various choices on what to eat, wear, and do every day, you are helping them retain their autonomy. Enabling them to have a say on their daily activities and other events will make them feel like an active participant in the family.
Shop for adaptive seating equipment
Acquire Empliving’s REAL mobility chairs to receive the best functionality and comfort for you and your loved ones. Every REAL Adult chair optimizes adaptability, safety, and ease of use. Whether a senior wants to cook their own meals, work on their hobbies, or tidy up their living space, the chair can make physical movements straightforward and effortless.
Your REAL chair adjusts seamlessly to your lifestyle. Its modular design can be modified depending on the needs of the user. The chair adapts to changes in your life, instead of you having to adapt to it. It facilitates a larger range of movement so users can reach the contents of drawers, the sink, or the kitchen countertop, and then you can easily lower the chair to meet eye-to-eye with people seated at the same table. Thanks to REAL mobility chairs, seniors can enjoy an increased level of independence regardless of their diminished ability to move.