5 Tips To Help An Elderly Loved One Remain Independent In Their Old Age

It’s a reality which we’d rather not confront for our loved ones. But it’s an unwelcome truth that as those close to us age, their independence tends to wane. And to make matters all that little bit more difficult to manage, pride all too often gets in the way of asking for that much needed helping hand.

This doesn’t mean that living an autonomous, fruitful life in the winter years is out of the question. Quite the opposite in fact; here are 5 tips to help an elderly loved one remain independent in their old age.

Help Your Elderly Loved One Stay Social

With lifelong friends losing mobility or sadly passing away, and children and other family members living in different parts of the country or abroad, many older people can feel lonely. This had led to experts warning that we are facing a loneliness epidemic in 2022.

This can contribute to a whole host of problems both physical and mental. If you want to support your elderly loved one’s independence, then it’s essential you help facilitate their continued socialising, particularly if they’re feeling reticent or restricted by their mobility.

There are lots of things you can do to help your loved one cultivate new connections and stay social. Aside from the obvious – to visit them more often – you can also help them maintain friendships with folk of a similar age, taking them to clubs, classes or social groups to meet new people, or engaging more deeply with your community through charitable organisations and volunteering opportunities.

Remember that you’re never too old to make a new friend and it can mean all the difference to your loved one’s mental health.

Provide A Route To Digital Socialising, Too

One of the best ways to provide ongoing emotional support for an elderly loved one is to help them gain confidence in computers. Once they have a grasp of how to message and video call, a whole new channel of socialising will have been opened up.

If you don’t possess the skills or patience to do this yourself, then the charity Age UK offer training courses in computer literacy for the elderly. You can find out if your nearest Age UK offers training courses on their website; simply enter your postcode.

And if making phone calls is tough for your elderly relative, consider investing in a smart home hub device, such as an Amazon Echo with Alexa, or Apple’s Siri; the hands free nature, as well as simplicity of use, can be really useful for those elderly people who struggle with mobility or cognitive function.

Make Sure You’re Honest About The Care They May Need

You (and your elderly loved one) may also need to accept that professional care may be needed, whether that’s in the form of a live-in carer, respite care, condition-specific assistance, or even the possibility of a care home.

As Signature, who run several excellent care homes in Surrey, suggest, it’s essential that you first drill down into your loved one’s specific needs. Does your loved one require ongoing medical attention? If so, a nursing home would be the better place for them. If they are starting to struggle to carry out chores, dress, etc., then perhaps an assisted living home would be the better fit? If they have dementia or Alzheimer’s, a memory care home is where they will get the right support. When you have determined the right kind of care, you can be more upfront and honest about the best decisions moving forward.

Read: Different types of care for elderly people

Plan For Changes In Their Circumstances Well In Advance

Although living in the moment is great, and ignoring the inevitable an easy option, taking a proactive approach to your elderly loved one’s ageing will help you plan ahead and try to foresee any problems you may have in the future. Though they might be fit and able-bodied now, there is no telling how long that may last.

Start thinking about where improvements may need to be made in your home to smooth the transition into old age. Can their bedroom be moved to the ground floor? Will they need help with any stairs? What odd jobs can be done now, when they’re of sound mind and body to do so?

One of the most common places needing to be adapted for elderly use is the bathroom. Slippage is common and can be extremely dangerous for anyone who is older, so don’t take any chances with this part of the house. Installing a walk-in shower or wet room can be a great way to maintain safety and security here. 

Check out some more home modifications that could help in later life here.

Keep Track

If your elderly loved ones are going to continue living alone, there are other ensure peace of mind for the whole family. Aside from those calls we mentioned, motion sensors are also reliable for keeping track of them, to check if there’s been a fall or other issue when no one is around. Though ‘tracking’ perhaps sounds intrusive, for some it offers security and a sense of serenity

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