There is a common misconception that getting older means you are no longer capable of living at home and being independent. The truth is, most seniors would rather remain in the comfort of their own homes than go elsewhere. Now more than ever, this can be a reality by following some ways to maintain independence at home.
Being an independent senior has never been easier with the number of resources, programs, and services available to help you. Take advantage of the opportunities around you and do not let your age define what you can and cannot do. With this being said, it is important to know your limits and not act irrationally when choosing to remain independent. Be smart and safe because independence can be challenging, but it is achievable.
There are many things to consider when choosing to remain independent at home. One of the most important is ensuring that the home is safe and accessible.
Creating a safe home for seniors
There are various ways maintain your independence and make a home safer. If you are not sure where to start, consider some of these basics:
Medical alert system
Depending on the type of system you have, a medical alert system can connect you to an emergency dispatch or personal emergency contact with just the press of a button. It is convenient to have on your person and can even include a fall-detection feature. Do some research to see what your needs are and what they will be in the future. You may want a device that can be on your person, as well as connected to a landline. There are many great systems out there, so it is important to understand all the product offerings before buying.
Home Health Aides
Choosing to remain at home as an independent senior does not come without its risks. Consider hiring a home healthcare aide who can visit a few times a week. This is especially great for those seniors who are living alone. There are dozens of companies who will send someone into the home who can assist with healthcare needs like medication, nutrition, and checkups. Both private pay and low-income options may be available in your area.
These programs can offer non-medical assistance in regards to bathing, grooming, cooking, cleaning, and general companionship. VANTAGE Aging Home Wellness Solutions offers non-medical care and wellness support so seniors can continue to age with dignity in their own home.
If you are not looking to have someone visit your home, there are other ways that someone can still check in on you. VANTAGE Aging’s RSVP program offers TeleCare that sets up a call between a senior and a volunteer to provide companionship and make sure everything is alright.
Enhance your home to maintain your independence
- moving or securing carpets and loose cords to the floor
- installing lights in dark areas of the home with easy-to-access switches
- Installing automatic lights outside
- securing railings inside and out
- installing assistance rails in bathrooms and anywhere else they are needed
- installing a chair lift when necessary
- moving heavy items to waist height shelves and moving frequently used items to lower shelves where they are easily accessible
- consider a home security system
Explore your interests
It is important to remain active and to take the time to do things outside of your home when possible. Explore your interests and find fun ways to spend your time.
Maybe you are not sure what all of your interests are, which is perfectly fine. Try new things and take the time to figure out what you like.
One way you can go about exploring your interests is by learning something new. Learn to play an instrument like guitar or try something completely different like steel drums. Take an art class to learn how to paint or draw. Try studying a new language or teaching English to someone else. Sign up for a cooking class and learn some yummy new recipes. Consider doing some of these activities with friends and family to stay connected and strengthen your relationships.
You can read, write, travel someplace new, or join an exercise class like water aerobics. Go to a museum or become a tour guide at one. If you have grandchildren, spend some time with them by going to their extracurricular events to support them.
Other ways to spend your time could involve giving back to the community. This can be done by becoming a mentor for a youth program or volunteering locally. VATAGE Aging offers many opportunities to volunteer for people 55 and older through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. The volunteer opportunities range from tutoring children to assisting in food pantries, and many more. To learn more about all the different ways you can volunteer through RSVP and how to sign up, click here.
By doing some of these activities, you can keep your mind and body active!
Take care of your mental and emotional health
At any age, it is important to take care of one’s mental and emotional health.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 20% of adults over the age of 60 deal with some form of mental or neurological disorder. For adults 60 and over, depression affects about 7% of the population and anxiety disorders affect 3.8%.
It is OK to experience a need for behavioral health treatment, and odds are you are not alone. VANTAGE Aging offers many different treatment options through our partnership with The Blick Center.
Know your resources on ways to maintain independence
Not enough information? Still curious about a certain topic? No worries! There are plenty of local resources available that can help answer any questions you still have about senior independence and other topics. Gain insight into volunteer opportunities, elder rights, how seniors are serving others, and get educated on the services available to seniors to make independent living possible. Some of these resources include:
- VANTAGE Aging
- Summit County Department of Job and Family Services
- Direction Home Akron-Canton Area Agency on Aging
- United Way 2-1-1
- National Institute on Aging
- National Council on Aging
Want to learn more about how VANTAGE Aging can help you or your loved ones stay independent at home? Check out our programs and services or call 330-253-4597 for more details.
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.