Maintaining Independence While Aging

Maintaining one’s independence is very important, but physical and cognitive changes throughout the aging process may make it difficult to maintain the same lifestyle. However, with a combination of old and new support techniques, there are many ways to help you keep your independence as you age.

A key element to help maintain independence is to start planning as soon as possible. This may involve meeting with trusted professionals, including lawyers and financial planners, to project what funds are needed to remain independent. This may involve allocating money for homecare, a driving service, or for leisure activities. Planning may also involve moving to a new home without steps to reduce the risk of falling, or making modifications to your existing home in order to remain at your current location. Looking ahead now will help reduce the stress and anxiety of having to make big changes at a later time.

As we age, physical and financial changes may increase our need to make modifications in our life. Accepting change in your life is key to staying as independent as possible. It is inevitable that some changes will occur as we age, however these changes do not need to dictate our future. There are many ways to take control of these changes and enhance our life through new approaches. We should find ways to challenge our emotional reactions of fear, hopelessness and anxiety, with alternative choices. It is important to research and use new approaches that allow us to continue to have choices as we age. One area of frustration in the elderly is often vision and hearing problems. Instead of accepting the limitations of these physical changes, you may need to consider exploring phones that have large print to display messages during a conversation or the use of a hearing aid. You may need to adapt your activities and interests due to physical changes or because of the use of medications. This does not mean that you cannot continue your interests, but that modification may be needed. Getting involved in a new hobby that enhances your cognitive abilities and/or incorporates previous interests can be helpful. Communicating your desire to maintain a specific lifestyle to family members is essential. It is important to take time to evaluate the activities that are most important to you and to communicate these preferences to your loved ones and caregivers. Actively choose to accept offers of help and explore how additional services can allow you to sustain your independence.

Often, remaining independent involves making slight modifications or enhancements to how you receive care and services. One such service is the use of nurse practitioner house calls which can help you monitor a chronic illness, manage medication, or receive medical care when it may be difficult to get to your physician’s office. This is a helpful service that should be provided in conjunction with your family physician. Look into companies that offer home deliveries, which can be ordered by phone or through the Internet. You may receive medications, food and many other services in the convenience of your home. It is essential to permit yourself to manage your life in a different way in order to best maintain your independence.

Another area to explore is the growing use of technology, which will play an instrumental role in helping individuals remain independent at home. Large and small organizations have designed monitoring services and wearable equipment to help you communicate with your physician and family members. Technology can be used to monitor vital signs, remind you to take your medications and to notify family members if you fall, forget to take your medication or become dehydrated. These devices are relatively unobtrusive and may be in the form of a wristwatch, or monitors installed in your home, or they may involve apps on your your computer. Technology is also important when it comes to enhancing communication to family and friends. Some may use e-mails, Skype and Facetime.

With the advent of new technologies, additional home delivery services, community support programs and a society that is endorsing the need and desire to age in place, maintaining an independent lifestyle has become increasingly easy. Take time to plan, accept changes in your life and incorporate helpful services to assist you along your journey. When in doubt reach out to a healthcare or aging professional that is well versed in the available resources. For more information or guidance, call Abramson Care Advisors, free 24 hours a day seven days a week, at 215-371-3400.