Coping with Loss of Independence as we Age
Seniors losing some of their independence with age is vastly associated with physical health issues and changes in physical abilities. While it’s true that worsening sight, diminished mobility, or severe health problems can cause a degree of dependence on others, loss of independence can also be attributed to many social, financial, and psychological factors. It can be discouraging and lead to depression, isolation, losing one’s sense of purpose and identity, and deteriorating health due to a reluctance to ask for, or accept, adequate help.
Coping with decreased independence can be challenging, as there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. There are, however, ways to adapt through adjusting one’s perspective as well as taking concrete steps towards keeping one’s autonomy, as much as possible, even where assistance is required. While it’s natural to feel vulnerable, irritable, or resentful towards those you now feel you must depend on, it’s important not to allow yourself to feel burdensome when help is offered and to try to think of solutions in a more practical light. This new life chapter requires patience but should still be positive, fulfilling, and full of enjoyment.
The most crucial step you can take is prioritizing your health. This is the time to take a preventative approach and ensure you are not just reactively treating newly arising health issues. It’s important for seniors to stay on top of scheduling and keeping regular doctor’s appointments for general checkups, eye and dental exams, and specialist tests for any concerns. If you work with a great geriatric care management team, they can ensure you are on a healthy meal plan and recommend ways for you to stay physically and socially active. They can also help you stay on top of any prescribed medications, treatments, and medical screenings.
Though it sounds counterintuitive, you may find that receiving the right type of help can do wonders for allowing you to keep much of your independence in the long run. For example, allowing a geriatric care manager to assess your current abilities to perform activities of daily living can mean putting together a healthy daily routine, including workouts, meals, and transportation tailored to your capabilities, as well as possible improvements to your environment that allow you to better function without relying on others. For example, this can entail making modifications to your home that facilitate freer movement and reduce the risk of fall or injury, setting up your electronics and lights to be sound-activated if your vision is impaired, and bringing in a cleaning service for a more hygienic milieu.
It’s also important to make concrete plans and have your legal and financial affairs in order ahead of time, documenting your wishes in cases of health crises and medical emergencies. In the same vein, it’s a good idea to discuss your wishes and preferences with family members early on, letting them know whether you would prefer to age in place and if so, under what circumstances you may be willing to relocate to a facility, chat about available finances, and possibly bring in professional help to explore all available options and resources.
If you are located in the Boston South Shore area, consider bringing in the expert team at Senior Steps. We offer FREE consultation calls and are diligent about helping seniors retain their autonomy and independence as much as possible through the best available services and resources. Please visit our Contact page on our website or reach out through our social media pages!