Why Maintaining Independence Is Important For Seniors As They Age

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Photo by Edu Carvalho from Pexels

When it comes to getting older, the loss of independence remains a top concern and barrier for the nation’s senior community.. Today, a large percentage of seniors remain imprisoned by their lack of independence and mourn the loss of control and normal daily life. According to estimates, only 27 percent of seniors aged 60 and older live independently or alone and a larger percentage say they have lost most of their independence. However, the benefits of maintaining independence as you age are well proven and far-reaching, making it even more important that medical authorities, seniors, and caregivers work together to encourage independence amongst seniors.

Independence Promotes Better Physical Health And Reduces Risks

Helping your older loved ones maintain independence as they age can be good for their health. This is because seniors who continue to be physically active are more likely to maintain their balance and strength. This can be a key strategy in reducing the number of falls that the nation’s seniors experience every year. Approximately 36 million falls are reported for senior Americans every year. For those that need a bit of help moving around, there is now a wide variety of mobility aid devices including walkers or handrails.

It Helps To Maintain A Sense Of Identity And Control As Seniors Age

Helping seniors maintain their independence can also help older loved ones feel in control of their life as they age. The loss of control as they age and experience health challenges like the loss of mobility can leave them feeling like they have lost control of their bodies and lives, including the ability to live on their own. Past studies have also shown that when seniors do not feel in control, it can impact their mood and ability to carry out everyday self-care activities. However, the good news is that the use of medical and adaptive technology can help them retain some of that control while still providing you with peace of mind. For instance, personal emergency response systems pinpoint tumbles, slips, and even missed medications. They can then alert a designated carer and medical authorities of accidents.

It Can Help To Combat The Loneliness And Isolation So Many Seniors Experience

Many studies and organizations including the Center for Disease Control and Prevention have found that seniors are more likely to experience isolation and loneliness driven by their loss of independence. Social isolation and loneliness have also been linked to serious health conditions including premature death and an increased risk of heart disease or stroke. Loneliness also increases the likelihood of depression in seniors.

Helping seniors maintain their independence means they can continue to do their normal daily activities (even scaled-down). One good example of the effect of this is the story of Ms. Solange DeLaPaz, aged 67 who now rarely leaves her Manhattan apartment. According to Ms. DeLaPaz, “I miss going to Sunday brunch on Second Avenue with my friends,” she said. “I miss going to church.” Some ways you can help seniors avoid social isolation and maintain their independence includes making senior-friendly transportation options available or encouraging them to attend and dine with others at the community center. 

Maintaining their independence as they age is important to seniors for many reasons, not just mentally or physically. It can be a foundational part of helping them continue to have a happy, healthy life in their older years.