Declining mental and physical abilities can make elderly persons more dependent on others for assistance. While a certain level of dependence is unavoidable, it's often desirable for the aged to maintain a degree of independence. Here are four ways you can help your loved one keep their independence for as long as possible.
1. Let Them Set the Pace
Aging takes place in stages. Your elderly loved one might be able to do some things on their own, but not others. A good rule of thumb is to let them do the task alone as long as they can do it safely. If they can't, then offer help. Let them set the pace. For example, you might let your loved one use the microwave oven alone, but not the gas range. As time goes on, monitor how well your older loved one is doing with the tasks they perform independently. Only provide assistance when they start to need more help.
2. Provide Access to Services
With over 40 million people over the age of 65, there are more services than ever before for the aging population. Grocery stores have battery-powered scooters for the elderly and disabled, meal delivery services are available, and geriatric products are available through mail order. These are all services that help older people maintain their independence longer. Help your loved one by providing access to these services, either by signing them up, paying for the service, or both.
3. Modify Their Living Environment
The senior living environment can be modified to help your aging loved one to continue being independent for as long as possible. Take a day and consider doing such things as:
- Installing a rail inside the shower and next to the toilet
- Placing items like magazines, knitting baskets and shoe bins on stools and chairs for easier access
- Acquiring a lift chair to help them move to a standing position independently
- Lowering kitchen shelves for easier reaching of dishes and cups
4. Provide Telephone Access
One of the scariest aspects of living independently for the aged is not being able to reach someone when help is needed. Make it easy for your loved one to call you by programming your cell number into their phone. Subscribe to an emergency assistance provider service for them so all they have to do is press a button if they have a problem and need professional help right away.
These four ways of helping your loved one live independently will make them feel safer and more secure so that they can live independently for as long as possible.