Seniors have spent several decades building a life and a home that matters to them, raising children, pursuing careers, traveling the world, and saving money for retirement. In other words, they’ve lived and made decisions independently for longer than they can remember. It makes sense why many seniors become especially frustrated as they age and lose pieces of their autonomy, whether it’s because of memory, mobility, or other new struggles that they face. What can seniors do to maintain and modify their independence so they still feel like themselves? Check out our 7 tips for securing senior independence, and remember that you don’t have to do everything alone to be independent!
Make safety modifications to your home:
There’s no better way to secure your independence than by making your home safer to navigate. Many seniors fall and hurt themselves in their homes, especially as they lose mobility. However, certain safety modifications can prevent those falls and keep you independent. Some ideas for improving household safety include:
- Moving your upstairs bedroom to a downstairs space, if available.
- Adding handrails in your bathroom.
- Installing a walk-in bathtub.
Install a PERS unit:
You can also make a senior’s home safer by installing a personal emergency response system, or PERS unit. PERS units provide a bracelet or pendant with a button that seniors can push any time an emergency occurs, such as a fall. An operator will speak to them directly and send help if they need it, making it possible for seniors to secure their independence and worry less as they fly solo during their daily activities!
Find mealtime alternatives:
Kitchen accidents become more common and severe for people as they age, especially because cooking involves so many steps and dangerous equipment. Here are some ways that you can make mealtime a little simpler:
- Put frequently used ingredients on lower shelves and counters.
- Add more details to your recipes, including instructions on appliance use and cooking time.
- Consider finding a meals program, such as Senior Solutions Nutrition, that can deliver meals to your front door!
Use transportation services:
Seniors often lose some of their mobility and quick reflexes as they get older, making it more difficult for them to drive their car. Unfortunately, many seniors get into car accidents because of these new difficulties, leading to injury, hospitalization, and even death. It can feel hopeless to lose the ability to drive, especially because it feels like losing your independence to come and go as you please. However, there are many services out there that can help seniors get where they want to go on their own schedule! Uber and Lyft are common rideshare companies that operate a lot like taxis, but allow you to book a ride with the touch of a button in their app. If you need more assistance with transportation, whether you’re in a wheelchair or use a walker or cane, non-emergency medical transportation companies also allow you to book rides for appointments, special events, and daily activities. Don’t drive if you aren’t safe and secure enough to do it alone, but don’t think that means that you’re stuck at home!
Adopt a pet:
Believe it or not, adopting a pet can help seniors to live independently for a longer time! Pets keep you active, making you stronger and more flexible in the face of injury. Pets improve your mental and emotional health, as you care for and love another living thing. And most importantly, pets love and protect you, with many of them acting as a home alarm system when something is wrong. Taking care of a pet takes a lot of work, but for many seniors, their companionship helps them to keep their independent lifestyle!
Try memory and brain games:
Memory and brain games can strengthen your mind as you age. Especially if you have a family history of Alzheimer’s or dementia, keeping your mind fit can help you with memory loss down the road. Some fun games that exercise your mind include crossword puzzles and word searches, trivia, sudoku puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles! You can also do fun activities with friends and family, such as Getting to Know You Bingo.
Work with a caregiver:
Inviting a caregiver into your home may feel like the ultimate loss of independence, but it’s really the opposite! When you have a caregiver who cares about you and understands what you need, they can assist you in living at home as long as possible. Although caregivers can provide constant care and become heavily involved in your life, caregivers can also work with you a couple of hours a week to handle more difficult household and personal tasks. You control what and how much your caregiver helps with!
Could you or a loved one benefit from the in-home touch of a caregiver?
Although some of these tips may sound like you will lose independence, it’s important to remember that aging sometimes means redefining independence in your life. If these ideas help you to prevent an accident or injury that could send you to the hospital or worse, we think it’s a true victory for your independence!