Why Independence is an Important Part of Elderly Care
Anyone receiving care and support will value independence highly, as it brings with it dignity, control, self-esteem, and fulfilment. When caring for an elderly person, whether at home or in a care facility such as an assisted living apartment or nursing home, independence is key to ensuring happiness and quality of life.
When independence is removed from a person’s life, the individual may feel defeated, depressed, or begin to doubt their own ability to care for themselves. Low expectations lead to reduced capabilities and can be self-fulfilling, causing deterioration in health and cognitive ability. In a worst-case-scenario, the loss of independence can lead to the loss of a will to live.
It is therefore imperative that in any elderly care setting, independence is encouraged as much as possible, in all aspects of life and daily activity. This means enabling and supporting the person in your care to maintain an active mind and body as much as possible, within their abilities, whether that is something as simple as taking care of their own personal hygiene, or engaging in social activities regularly.
Sometimes the suggestion to increase independence can be met with anxiety or reluctance but with consistent and accommodating support, even people with severely limited mobility can be afforded a certain amount of independence and especially person choice.
One of the main benefits of promoting independence in elderly people in care settings is to create a sense of achievement and pride in their accomplishments. Independent activities, responsibilities and routines allow the individual to feel like they have a purpose to each day and relieves the feeling of dependence on others. This can have a number of positive implications for someone who is less able, especially if they are being cared for by a member of their family who they may wish did not have to do so much to help them. In a care home facility, feeling able to take control of certain aspects of their day to day tasks can not only lift the mood and outlook of a resident, but can also improve their overall health and well-being.
Independent activities can be physical or mental, and can be tailored according to the individual’s abilities and personal circumstance, for example:
- Light housework or cooking
- Travelling on public transport
- Attending social events and meeting with friends
- Talking on the phone, writing letters or emails
- Using the computer
- Personal hygiene and dressing
- Playing games or solving puzzles
- Making tea and refreshments
- Going for walks or engaging in gentle exercise
- Volunteering and charity work
While the very nature of encouraging independent activity is to reduce the amount of supervision a person requires, it is still important to ensure that each situation is safe and unlikely to cause harm or injury. Before incorporating periods of independence into a routine, it’s best to seek guidance from a professional healthcare provider to ensure each task’s suitability.
Promoting independence can strengthen relationships between elderly people and their carers, and may be the difference between an unhappy care situation and a fulfilling new chapter in a person’s life.
For free, personalised advice and tips on creating the ideal care situation for you or a loved-one, as well as local listings for a range of care providers, please get in touch with us at My Care My Home.