Ever since toddlerhood, we have all strived for independence. From wanting to walk by ourselves to eventually moving out on our own, independence is a staple of our lives, and seniors are no different. Many wish to maintain independence to ensure themselves (and others) that they can still take care of themselves.
However, when weighing how much independence is safe for a senior, it is crucial to consider the benefits and burdens.
Benefits of Senior Independence
There are many benefits offered by senior independence, especially to a loved one’s mental health.
Feel Like an Individual
Maintaining independence allows seniors to make choices for themselves, which lets them continue to play a central role in how they spend their day. Not only that but remaining at home allows the seniors to continue decorating their living space in the way that best represents them.
It can be challenging for a senior to relinquish control of their day to others after spending most of their life doing what they wish. In fact, seniors who feel they cannot express themselves can develop depression or anger and, in some cases, may display destructive behaviors.
Sense of Purpose
Senior independence and being able to do what one wants, when one wants to, help to encourage a sense of purpose.
By maintaining independence, seniors can enjoy the activities that they like to do and contribute to the lives of those around them. Acknowledging this positive impact on others provides seniors with a sense of purpose and accomplishment in doing good for others.
Gives Them Control
There are many things in life that we cannot control, such as aging and certain diseases, and seniors can fall victim to these feelings of losing control. Allowing seniors to keep their independence offers them something that they can control, giving them more stability when having to deal with those uncontrollable things.
In addition, having greater control over one’s life also increases self-worth and makes seniors more satisfied with what they have accomplished, positively influencing their mental health.
Burdens of Senior Independence
While senior independence is an important quality, there are some burdens and dangers to consider.
Increased Risk of Injury
Having too much independence can leave seniors completing actions that put them at greater risk of injuring themselves. For example, falls are all too common in seniors who try to grab something that is just out of reach, resulting in serious injuries.
Some seniors may find themselves experiencing isolation when there is no one to keep them company during the day, increasing their likelihood of developing feelings of depression and hopelessness, which leads to a lower quality of life.
In some cases, seniors may not recognize that they are displaying unusual symptoms, which is why it is beneficial to have a second set of eyes to watch for concerning symptoms. Some diseases also progress very slowly and are not recognizable in the person with them, such as Alzheimer’s. Those with Alzheimer’s may think that their memory lapses are a normal part of aging, but someone else may be able to recognize that the problems are more significant.
Juggling Senior Independence and Safety
In-home care helps bridge the gap between safety and independence, allowing seniors to live on their own and care for themselves while providing a caregiver who can help with tasks that have become difficult. If you are interested in how in-home care can help your loved one maintain independence safely, reach out to us at (404) 310-3567.