This Fourth of July marked the 240th anniversary of America’s Independence Day. Independence means a lot to Americans. But now that we’ve had our last slice of apple pie and watched the flame extinguish on our last firecracker, it’s a good time to reflect on what independence means for the elderly adults in our lives.
We all value independence and our desire for independence doesn’t diminish with age. If anything, independence becomes more important to us as we age. So the gift of independence is one of the most precious gifts we can give to our older adult loved ones.
Living independently provides several crucial benefits:
- Higher quality of life: It can be scary to face all of the changes that come with aging. But the security and familiarity that comes with living independently acts as a shield against much of the anxiety.
- Increased sense of self-worth: Maintaining independence provides a sense of achievement, which in turn promotes a greater sense of self-worth.
- Increased sense of control: As we age, many aspects of our lives can change rapidly making it seem like we aren’t in control anymore. It can be a welcome relief for seniors to feel in control of their living situations.
Of course, independent living means different things for different people. Staying at home is not always the safest option. Still, as long as you take a compassionate approach, you can celebrate the level of independence that is appropriate for your loved one.
What level of independence is right for your loved one?
Here are some considerations to get you started:
If you notice:
- Recent accidents or close calls. Did your loved one take a minor fall or have a medical scare? Who responded and how long did it take? Accidents do happen, but as we age, the odds increase that they will happen again.
- Minor episodes of forgetfulness. Are you finding stale or expired foods in the pantry or multiples of the exact same variety of TV dinners? This might indicate that your loved one’s memory is not quite as sharp as it once was.
It is time to consider small adjustments that will help your loved one continue her fully independent lifestyle. The good news here is that, with just a little help, it is quite possible for your loved one’s life to go on virtually as usual. Installing an emergency monitoring system, like PBE’s Safe at Home system, makes it possible for your loved one to continue living at home while you rest assured knowing she has emergency services available at the touch of a button should anything go wrong.
If you notice:
- Your loved one has cut back on social activities. Has your loved one given up a favorite hobby, stopped going to the local library, or started skipping senior exercise class?
- Signs of lax housekeeping. More than the usual amount of clutter, spills that haven’t been cleaned up, cobwebs in a usually dust-free house, mold growing in the bathroom are all signs to look for.
It is time to consider at least a part-time home health care aide. These signs may indicate physical limitations that make driving more difficult or housekeeping more than just an annoying chore. It might be a good idea to find a family member or other professional, who can visit the home for several hours each day and take your loved one on little outings. Still, moderately independent living is very much within your loved one’s reach.
If you notice:
- Increasing difficulty managing daily activities. There are certain skills needed to continue living independently at home. If your loved one is having difficulty, dressing, shopping, cooking, managing medications, or taking care of personal hygiene, these are signs that living at home may not be what’s best.
- More than moderate weight loss. Does dad feel thinner when you hug him? Are his clothes fitting more loosely? Many conditions from depression to tooth decay can cause a lack of appetite and weight loss. A person who is having trouble getting to the grocery store or forgetting to eat can lose weight too.
It is time to consider moving your loved one to an assisted living facility. These more severe signs indicate that it may be time to contact your loved one’s doctor, a social worker, or other geriatric expert to perform a functional assessment. If your loved one is showing signs that living alone is a strain, it may be time to broach the subject of moving to an assisted living facility.
Above all, truly celebrate your loved one’s independence by asking for mom or dad’s input as you are making these decisions. Even if keeping mom at home is not an option in the end, she will feel better about the move having had the chance to voice her feelings.
The experts at Push Button Emergency Help are here to help you determine what works best for your family. If your loved one has opportunities to live a full life with close neighborhood and community connections, and seems to be thriving in most areas of life, it’s best to explore as many in-home care options as possible before pressing for a move from a beloved home. PBE can help by extending your loved one’s independent living options. Take a look at our many products designed to support you in whatever decision you make.
This month, we at PBE hope you will consider giving the gift of independence to an elderly loved one in your life. Contact us TODAY. Before you know it, you’ll be celebrating Mom’s independence day.