Humans begin life as pretty helpless beings that are reliant on others to provide for their most basic needs. As we grow we generally become less reliant and learning how to provide for these needs ourselves. By undergoing this process we gain our independence and in so doing are able to carve out our own place in the world. However, once we reach a certain stage in life this hard earned independence can begin to be eroded. Combinations of age, poor health, chronic illness and unfortunate care choices can make individuals feel like small children once again. There remains limits on what can be done about the aging process itself and the health issues that come with it. However, having good information and improving care options can maintain independence and make a huge difference to a person’s later years.
Why is independence important?
As human’s we generally place great emphasis on being in control of our own lives, choices and ambitions. Having this control allows us to make decisions about the course of our lives from what we will eat and wear, to where we will go on holiday. Being able to make these decisions is closely linked to your feelings of self esteem and well being. If these decisions are taken away from us our self esteem can suffer and we become more susceptible to illness, infection and mental health problems. In short both quality of life and life span can be negatively affected when control is removed from someone’s life.
How can independence be maintained?
- Remaining in your own home
Key to most people’s sense of independence is having their own space. Having to leave a space in terms of a family home for new accommodation or a care home can take away any sense of control. It is possible for more elderly people to remain in their homes if they can access the right care packages to support their needs. This could include having a care provider visit on a daily basis, or having a live in carer. It could also involve having your home modified to make it safer and easier to navigate.
- Remaining social active
Staying close to those you know, who you want to spend time with can help you keep your mind alert. It can also help to overcome feelings of loneliness and depression. Once leaving the home unaided becomes difficult using home care options can help to maintain independence. This could involve hiring a care provider to support you on public transport, help you navigate shops or just to accompany you and improve your sense of safety.
- Accident prevention
One of the key causes of elderly people losing their independence is as a result of an accident. Even the smallest slip or trip can have major consequences as you get older. Most accidents tend to happen in the home and can be easily prevented. Getting someone to check that carpets and flooring are fitted properly and that lights are in working order is a good place to start. Having someone come in to do jobs that you can no longer safely do can leave you free to concentrate on the things you can do. This could include jobs that involve climbing, reaching above your head or moving heavy objects.
The ability to remain independent is crucial to an individual’s wellbeing and this doesn’t change with age. In fact it becomes more important as we become older. Being able to access the right type of care package, particularly home care is an essential element in achieving this.