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How to stay Independent in Old age?

In order to stay independent in old age, you must keep physically active and mentally stimulated. Keep clean, tidy and well-groomed. Clean and tidy your home. Regularly see your doctor and other medical professionals. Take the medications you are prescribed.

Socialize and join a club. Volunteer for a neighborhood group. It’s not wrong to ask for help. If someone offers help, graciously accept. If someone asks you for help, do as much as you can. They may be in a worse situation than you are.

Why is Independence important for the elderly?

For most of our life, we have been independent adults who have managed to stare the world in the face either on our own or with the support of a partner.

As we get older and less able to look after ourselves, we often find that it’s more and more difficult to stay independent especially if we lose our loved one. We can lose our self-confidence, self-esteem, and wonder why we should even bother.

This isn’t a healthy state of mind for anyone, of any age. But, especially not for a senior. We can cope with what life throws at us if we keep our bodies and minds as healthy as we can. We must keep our minds active, socialize more,  and try to pursue interesting hobbies.

Ways for the elderly to stay independent

We need our independence to keep confident and there are many ways we can do this. But, being independent doesn’t mean arrogantly disregarding your own body’s needs, or ignoring other people who might offer to help. Similarly, it’s not wrong or negative to accept help from someone else.

Be proactive

Be aware of the changes that are occurring in your life and your body and adapt to the natural changes that take place as we become older. If we need to use assistive devices to make our life easier, then do so. There are many different gadgets available online or through your doctor, that will make up for your failing faculties.

Although we must be aware of these changes and that they are inevitable, we should do as much as we can to delay these problems and hence, prolong our active life.

Create a safe home environment

We must make sure we live in a healthy environment. Just because we have lost our partner and live on our own doesn’t mean we should skip our daily housework routine. Household chores, including thorough house cleaning, vacuuming, laundry and garden maintenance are as essential now you’re on your own as they ever were before. Don’t neglect yourself or your home.

If you need grab-bars fitted around the home to help manage stairs and other awkward places, have them installed. If you can afford to, buy them and ask a handyman to do the work. However, there are many charities devoted to the elderly, who can supply and install these for you. Don’t be too proud to accept help if it’s there.

There are other articles on this website that describe how to make a home ‘elderly-friendly’. Read them carefully and see which alterations you can make to your home to help your situation.  Not everyone needs every modification, but I’m sure you can find hints that will make your life easier.

RELATED: Guide to home modifications for seniors

Don’t skip medical appointments

Your health is very important as you get older. You probably have a history of medical conditions and take appropriate medication to manage them. Continue to take your meds and visit your doctor regularly to check if you need to update your dosage.

Train yourself to take your medications at a certain time each day. If necessary, leave reminders around the house. Use a paper calendar,  use digital devices, even stick ‘post-it’ notes around the house.

RELATED: Medication management tips for seniors

If you notice some changes in your bodily routines or condition, tell your doctor. It might be something that needs attention immediately. No-one can do it for you, you need to tell your doctor if you notice anything at all.

Doctors are very important in our lives as we get older, but we mustn’t forget those other parts of our bodies that have their specialist medical practitioners. Our ears, eyes and mouth. Have your eyes and hearing tested regularly and wear spectacles or hearing aids if appropriate. Visit your dentist so your teeth or dentures work as they’re meant to.

Stay active

This is probably one of the most important things a senior can do to maintain their independence. You must stay active both in mind and body to keep all-around healthy.  But how do we do this?

Get involved within your community. Maybe your area runs a daycare center for the elderly. Even if you don’t think you’re old enough to need a place like this, they probably need volunteers to help run it. Perhaps your neighborhood has a community garden you can get involved with. It’s such good fun teaching the youngsters about planting, growing and harvesting. And it keeps them out of mischief too.

Although you can exercise on your own, it’s much more fun if you join a group of like-minded people. Perhaps you have a local yoga group? Many parks run Tai Chi classes  and some have a neighborhood gym or boxing club.

RELATED: Guide to exercises for seniors

Even if you don’t want to be the next heavyweight champion, you can probably use the equipment to keep fit and help the leaders tidy up at the end of the day.

Anyone for Scrabble?

Joining clubs isn’t only about exercising the body. You might enjoy joining a chess club, learn to play bridge or poker, even join a Scrabble tournament. There are sewing and knitting clubs, as well as painting classes, writing groups, and many others.

If you don’t know where to start, visit your local public library. Here, you will not only find many books to read but you’ll also find local groups who advertise their meetings with posters and flyers. If you don’t see anything to interest you, ask the librarians, who may know of other clubs nearby.

Do you realize what all these activities have in common? That’s right, they all involve other people, and socializing is essential at our time of life.

After a lifetime of being physically or mentally active at work, it comes as a shock to the system when you retire, to find you haven’t the stimuli you had before.

So, when you read the newspaper, actually take the time to read every article and if you can, do some research about the topics. So many people believe everything they read in the newspapers. Actually take the time to find out the truth.

Don’t skim over the crossword, see if you can complete it. It’s good for the brain. If you can use electronic equipment, there are plenty of free apps you can download that will keep your mind active and stimulated.

What’s next?

Remember, there are many ways you can stay independent in your old age. Make yourself a senior-friendly home and use gadgets that can help to stay independent. If you cant climb the stairs anymore, you might find mobility aids helpful.

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