For the first half of your life, your parent cared for you. Now that they are aging, it is time for you to take care of them. However, it is important to do so while respecting their independence. As your parent becomes more dependent on your care, their autonomy will become more and more important to them. When seniors are independent, they are happier, healthier, and more fulfilled. Prioritizing their independence will ensure their mental and physical health.
Put yourself in your parent’s shoes: for the last several decades, they have taken care of themselves. Now, their body and mind is aging, and tasks that were once simple now require much more of their energy, or they may not be able to do them at all. They are no longer able to rely solely on themselves; they must now depend on their child for care. For some seniors, this can be depressing, disheartening, and humiliating. They may feel a loss of purpose. In extreme cases, they may lose the desire to live. However, when their independence is retained as much as possible, it gives them a greater sense of agency over their own lives. With more control of what they do, seniors don’t feel as helpless in the face of aging and they can maintain their dignity. This means that their mental health is more sound and they are happier with life and themselves.
Independence is also important for seniors’ physical health. As your parent becomes more dependent on you, if their independence is not maintained in some other way, they may lower their expectations of themselves. This lower expectation causes them to spend less time participating in physical activity, which leds to a decline in health. However, if steps are taken to ensure that they are more independent, they will be more active. Active seniors are healthy seniors, so when you are caring for your parent, do what you can to encourage independence.
Independent Activities for Seniors
There are certain activities your senior parent can participate in that allows them to be independent. Here are some ideas that you can encourage:
- Light household tasks
- Attending social events
- Personal hygiene
- Keeping in touch with loved ones — phone calls, writing letters and emails, etc.
- Playing games
- Joining a group fitness class
- Volunteer work
- Going for walks
- Using the computer
While some seniors meet the suggestion of more independence with anxiety or hesitance, if you consistently encourage and support their efforts, they can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment from participating in independent activities.
While it is important to encourage independent activities, that does not mean that your senior parent does not require some supervision. However, having someone hover around them at all times will only serve to make them feel more restricted. In this case, our medical alert system with fall detection provides the ideal solution. With wearable technology that not only monitors falls but analyzes data related to walking, sitting, standing, and gait, you can rest assured that you are on top of your parent’s care while still keeping their dignity intact. Learn more about our medical alert systems with fall detection here today.