It’s not uncommon for seniors and young adults alike to worry more about losing their independence more than the actual aging process. While gaining wisdom, experience, and advancing in your career and family life may all seem appealing, losing the ability to care for yourself and your home can make the positives a little bit harder to enjoy.
While not every aging person is able to live completely independently, there are things that you can do to help support their self-sufficiency, which will help them to maintain their dignity and their pride for as long as possible.
In this post, we’ll talk about some of the things that you can do to help the seniors in your life to remain happy, healthy, and confident as they age.
Helping Seniors by Performing Small Tasks
One of the simplest things that you can do to promote senior independence is to help with small tasks. Try to lend a hand with some of the following:
Small home repairs and maintenance
Things like painting, cleaning out gutters, and caulking tubs can be fairly quick and easy tasks. Help out by asking what needs to be done around the house and take care of some of the things you can do yourself.
Offer to mow lawns, shovel snow, and salt sidewalks. If you can’t be there to help yourself, consider finding someone in the neighborhood who can take care of these things for a small fee. Being proactive about these types of things can help to reduce the risk of falls, slips, and injuries, and it will give everyone involved a little peace of mind.
Cooking and cleaning
Some light cooking and cleaning can go a long way. If you can, pop by once in a while and help with things like laundry, dusting, and vacuuming. Cook a hearty meal that will last for a few days, or make small meals to keep in a freezer.
Prescription pickups and drop offs, post office runs, and other small errands can be a big help, and they don’t take a lot of time.
Helping Seniors With Large-scale Tasks
When helping with the small tasks doesn’t cut it, it might be time to start thinking about some large-scale changes that can help while still promoting independence.
Although these may not be something you want to take care of yourself, enlisting a professional who can install small home modifications to improve quality of life is an option. This would include things like railings, ramps, and stair lifts.
If need be, you can even help to move a bedroom to the main floor, help to shop for a dishwasher or other small appliance, or assist with other small and simple upgrades that may make the senior in your life a little more comfortable.
When a family home is no longer suitable, helping to choose a smaller, more accommodating home can be the answer. Whether the home is part of a seniors’ complex, a condo, townhouse, or even just a smaller one-level detached home, it’ll be less to clean and maintain.
A seniors’ complex may offer additional benefits such as meals, group activities, and sometimes even cleaning or laundry services. Choosing one depends on the needs of the senior in your life, and what they see as the most important inclusions.
Paid Seniors Services
If you don’t have the time to be involved as much as you’d like, or you don’t live in the area, there are a number of senior-friendly services that are based on enriching, encouraging, and engaging aging people who still live independently.
Some of these services include:
Driving and companion services for shopping, medical appointments, and visits
Hot meal delivery services
Seniors groups and activities
In-home check-ups and nurse care
Personal alarms for medical emergencies
Seniors often enjoy many of these services not only for their ease, but for their companionship as well. It’s important to make sure that they feel valued in both their families and their social lives. Encouraging them to seek independence by enlisting some services of their choice can help to improve their quality of life as well as get them some of the socialization and interaction that they need.
Seniors and Estate Planning
It’s important to think about the present, but planning for the future can provide positive benefits as well.
Ensuring that you know and understand the estate and medical wishes of the senior in your life is one thing, but they should also have their plans laid out in a legal form as well. Make sure that they have a Last Will, Healthcare Directive, and a Power of Attorney document. These forms can help you both to understand the care expectations and goals should anything serious happen.
Elderly independence is an important factor in maintaining quality of life and happiness amongst seniors and their families. Lending a hand when and where it’s needed could help someone to enjoy the confidence of supporting themselves for a longer period of time.
If you don’t have any seniors in your life that you help to personally care for, try to help out others when you have the chance. Shovel a driveway, mow a lawn, or even just take a minute to chat. You’ll feel good for doing it, and it will make a world of difference to whoever you decided to help.
Can you think of any other tasks or modifications that we didn’t mention? How important is maintaining independence in your later years?
Cohousing for Seniors
When it comes to living arrangements, our aging population faces issues of affordability, accessibility, and quality of life—particularly loneliness. Cohousing can be a solution to all these problems, and so both seniors-only and multigenerational cohousing are becoming an increasingly popular option for seniors.
For one, seniors get to keep their independence, a luxury not afforded in many long-term or assisted-living facilities. They maintain a private residence and tend to their own needs, but there is often an on-site caregiver to assist with housekeeping, maintenance, and food preparation. Alternatively, residents may provide co-care, trading favors or working together to complete daily tasks. Individuals who require a higher level of care may have a live-in caregiver.
Most importantly, cohousing helps to combat loneliness. Widowers and seniors whose families live far away are particularly likely to be lonely, and living in a cohousing development offers endless opportunities to socialize, from sharing meals to sharing hobbies. Overall, senior cohousing offers not only a sense of community but also purpose, dignity, and safety.
The Benefits of Cohousing
Although alternative ways of living have been around for years, there has been a surge of interest in cohousing in the last several years. Whether it’s to save on housing and childcare costs, to live more sustainably, or to reduce feelings of isolation, cohousing can be a solution for a number of problems our society faces. And while cohousing may not be for everyone, its growing popularity may lead you to reflect more on where and how you live now.
Would you try cohousing?