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Will You Be Able To Live Independently?

You may have more control over this outcome that you realize. Making wise choices today can ensure that you are able to stay in your own home for a long time.

So let’s talk about what independence really is.

Was there ever a time in your life that you were truly independent? Travel back in time. As a young child, you were dependent on your parents. They provided all of the basic essentials of life. Food, water, clothing and a roof over your head were all provided.

As a teenager, you were still not independent. You relied on your parents to pay the bills and provide you with the necessities of life. And if you were lucky a few luxury items as well. But like most teenagers, you could not wait to be on your own- to be truly independent.

But were you?

Once out on your own, you probably relied on friends to help you sometimes. You may have even gone back home for help from your parents a few times. You relied on co-workers, employers and even customers to help you along the way in life.

The truth is we are all dependent

That is unless you live in a cave somewhere all by yourself. As social beings, we rely on one another. This manifests in different ways throughout our lifetime. But as people age, they often become used to doing activities “their way.” Their sense of pride may tell them that to allow someone to help them would somehow make them less independent.

But nothing is farther from the truth

Sometimes people become so hard headed about staying independent that they actually put themselves in danger of losing it. Accepting that we are getting older is not easy for many folks.

I don’t think anyone ever said, “I really want to move to assisted living!” The truth is most people are most comfortable in their own home. We want to eat when we want to eat, get up and go to bed on our schedule. Let’s face it, most people want to maintain their independence. At least what we perceive is our independence.

In fact, most people view themselves as about 15 years younger than they really are. Thus the 75-year-old man with arthritis may still insist on climbing onto his rooftop to clean out the gutters. In his mind, he is much younger and still able-bodied.

Physical changes happen over time.

People don’t suddenly wake up one day and notice that their joints are stiff with arthritis.  They don’t suddenly realize their vision or hearing has become impaired. All of these changes associated with aging can make the daily activities of living more difficult.

You may or may not notice that activities you regularly do take a bit more time now. The trip to the grocery store that used to take an hour may now take 2 or 3 hours.  And just getting dressed with arthritis will take longer.  And often an elderly person will experience issues with balance. Some of these problems may be caused by medication while others are simply issues related to aging.

Furthermore, You May Not Respond as Quickly

Reflexes are sometimes affected as someone ages. And if you have arthritis, which many do, it could hamper your abilities even more. This can create problems with driving.

Let’s face it, you really have to be a defensive driver these days. So many people are not paying attention. They are texting and talking and putting on makeup as they navigate the roads of Houston. And on top of that, there are just so many more people on the road every day. Even Tomball, Texas, which used to be a sleepy little town is full on hustle and bustle on the streets. Likewise, it is important to react quickly to traffic situations.

 Let’s face it, a wreck could have you laid up for a long time.

But Driving Is Not the Only Hazzard

elderly man on walker with caregiver helping

All of the challenges can make an older person more susceptible to falls.  Your balance, reflexes, and strength all play a role. And any senior knows that falls can be a real problem. Chances are you may know someone who fell, broke a hip and never returned home again. They spent the rest of their days in an assisted living facility or a nursing home.

A bad fall can cause someone to be hospitalized. The change in environment combined with pain medications can be a recipe for disaster.

“Mom was doing great before she fell”. Said Jamie “She was starting to recover when she fell out of bed one night. She has been in excruciating pain ever since. I think the medication is making her become very confused. She doesn’t know where she is and is often agitated. The social worker says we need to look for a place. She will not be returning home again.”

At best, recovery could take months. At worst, like Jamie’s Mom, a senior may never fully recover. The senior who wanted so desperately to stay in their own home may find themselves being shipped to an assisted living facility. The independence they really wanted is now gone forever.

So, what if you remained in your own home- with a little help?

Wouldn’t that be a better outcome? The key is to recognize that you may need a little assistance. So you bring in a caregiver to help with some of the chores. Now instead of doing all of the grocery shopping and meal planning alone, you have a helper. This helps you to get this chore done quickly and with less effort on your part. Now you feel more like exercising at the YMCA or socializing with neighbors.

And the great news is:

These activities will help you to remain at home where you really want to be. In fact, a study in Science Daily shows that a lifetime of regular exercise slows down aging. And seniors who exercise with other seniors in exercise programs like the Silver Sneakers™ program at the YMCA improve the health of both body and mind. In fact, studies on dementia show the effects of exercise to have a positive effect on brain help. It may even delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

And the good news is, a Home Care Company, like SYNERGY HomeCare, can help.

The key is to start services early when you just need a little help. Bringing in someone to help with a few things around the house may keep you independent for a lot longer. Freeing up your time and energy to enjoy life more will help you to stay fit.

Seniors often experience stress when challenged with their day to day activities. With a Home Care professional around to help, some of that stress will dissolve. That can give seniors a better quality of life and will also positively affect their health.

Letting someone else drive is probably the hardest service to accept. 

elderly lady driving

Most seniors report that it really feels like they are giving up their independence. But seniors need to be honest about their abilities. Sometimes we need to give a little to get a lot.

You may consider bringing in a professional like Sondra Weidenfeld with Senior Driving Essentials. They offer a unique self-assessment program for your family.  Their private, in-home self-assessment allows your family's older driver to access tools and exercises that may help them make the decision to continue driving or to retire from driving. If you decide that it is time to “hang up the keys”, your home care company can provide transportation services for you.

The key to successful aging at home is to be aware of both your strengths and your limitations. Let go of your pride and have the courage to admit when you need help. It takes a wise person to ask for the help they need before a crisis happens. Doing so may just help you avoid that crisis.

Kathryn Watson
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