How to Help Your Senior Loved One Retain Their Sense of Independence
Guest post by Andrew Needham
Helping loved ones as they age is a family’s responsibility. If you’ve noticed a decline in physical or cognitive functioning, you’ve probably also thought about getting them some additional help. However, many older adults resist this because they’ve been independent for most of their lives. Ultimately they will need to make changes in their lives, and you can assist them with those changes while helping them retain their sense of independence.
Develop a Schedule
Have them schedule regular times with family and friends to break up their day and give them something to look forward to. This is a great exercise for them because they will be making their own decisions on a weekly basis. It will also encourage them to stay socially active with friends and family. This may even put them in a position where someone else will depend on them. This schedule could be an old fashioned calendar on the kitchen fridge, or if they’re more tech savvy, an app on their phone or tablet will help them keep organized. Via notifications or alarms, these reminders will help them remember their daily tasks and events.
Organize Their Finances
If your loved one is retired, they hopefully will have already set up a retirement plan. You will want to see if they know where their money is going and ensure they have what they need. If they are resistant to accepting help, this may be a harder topic to talk about, but it’s important to help your aging parents organize their finances. You’ll need to make sure three financial areas are under control; income, spending, and debt. If they’re retired, their only income will be from investment interest, or from a part time job. Help them to truly understand how much they have to work with. Many retirees are somewhat shocked when they first retire, because the sudden drop in income means they need to re-evaluate their spending habits.
The last part of the equation is debt. Hopefully all of their debts are paid off at this point, however, they still might have a mortgage or loans to pay off. If they have multiple loans, they may want to consider consolidating debt into a personal loan to save on interest costs. If they are still capable of working at least part time, this is a better option to pay off debt instead of cutting into retirement funds. If they’ve been living their life frugally, they likely won’t have very much debt left. If that is the case, the best option would be to pay all of it off as soon as possible.
Help Them See the Freedom that Accepting Help Can Give
Unfortunately, cognitive and physical decline to some extent can’t be avoided. However, you can let your loved one see that accepting the help gives their family the ability to give back to someone they love. By accepting aid, they are helping their kin show their kindness and selflessness. One day they will also need additional help, and they will remember what it was like. If your loved one requires help beyond what family is able to offer, To the Rescue provides many services such as home health, cleaning, and transportation services. What they offer improves the quality of people’s lives, and can be personalized to your loved one’s needs.
Reassure the Benefits of Physical Activity
Engaging in regular physical activity can reduce the amount of assistance they need as they age. Simple and frequent exercise can help them maintain their range of motion, balance, and strength. This will allow them to continue doing regular activities around the house, as well as going out and about. According to the CDC, adults over 65 need at least 150 minutes per week of exercise to stay healthy. This time can be split up each day of the week, and does not have to be extreme exercises. Going for walks and stretching regularly will help them retain their physical independence.
Encourage Them to Try New Hobbies
Keeping productive is essential to anyone’s life regardless of age. Age does limit some productive capabilities, but it doesn’t have to limit creativity. Hobbies that require moderate physical activity can aid in health and happiness. For example, indoor gardening is a great hobby that will bring life into their home. Having planters at standing height allows them to easily work with the plants without risking injury from bending over or lifting objects. Painting outdoors is another fantastic hobby to pick up because it will allow them to spend more time outdoors and less time sitting around inside. These activities will help keep their mind sharp and aware. Your loved one may not want to try a new hobby at first, but it’s important to share ideas and encourage creativity.