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Carers - a guide to encouraging independence in the elderly

12:00am & Tips and Advice

One of the most terrible eventualities of life revolves around the problems and issues that can arise with disease, old-age, and injury. Losing the ability to manage independence, with the freedom of complete mobility because of ageing muscles and weakened areas of the body can be incredibly upsetting. It could lead to a lower self-esteem, reduced confidence and even have a huge impact on day-to-day mood.

However, these days it is possible to return some form of independence and mobility to the elderly. This article takes a look at some of the ways that you can encourage independence.

1. Technical assistance

Not every senior will be willing to give up his or her home and move to a new building in their later years. And, in many cases, the only thing that is stopping them from being independent is the ability to move around the house easily.

In situations like this, technical assistance may be the ideal solution. There are numerous mobility aids that can be installed in an elderly person's home such as stairlifts, ramps and grab rails. It is even possible to obtain a stairlift rental if you want to try before you buy.

Most elderly people will also be entitled to discounts on mobility aids, so this is definitely worth looking into. The last thing you want to do is encourage an elderly person to do a stairlift price comparison if you know the products are out of their price range.

2. Social interaction

Perhaps one of the most important parts of maintaining independence when we get older involves the ability to continue seeing friends and family, meeting new people and ensuring we get the mental stimulation we crave. Socialising as often as possible can be a great way to ensure that seniors feel less isolated within their homes as they begin to grow older, and it can also help to improve cognitive function by keeping the brain active and engaged.

Social activity can be beneficial to the elderly on physical, emotional, and mental levels, leading to an overall better quality of life. During the days when socialising isn't on the agenda, you should make sure that independence is encouraged through other forms of mental stimulation.

3. Mental stimulation

Activities such as games designed to get the brain working like word searches, crossword puzzles cognitive activities for the elderly and so on can be fantastic assets to keeping the mind active.

They can also facilitate the healthy nourishment of mental function. Often, the stronger a person feels mentally, the more capable they are of having a positive, enriched outlook on their life, giving them a better overall quality of life. The great thing about crossword puzzles and word search games is that they can be done anywhere, at any time of the day, whether spending time on the sofa waiting for the programme of the day to begin, on the bus or in the car, or whilst waiting for your stairlift servicing to be completed.

4. Physical activity

Just because someone is getting older, it doesn't mean that he or she doesn't have the capacity to take part in physical activities and enjoy the fun that movement can bring. It is important to ensure that any physical activity a senior takes part in should be regarded as safe by their individual physician, but once you have obtained a doctor's approval, you may find that increasing physical activity can lead to a higher level of well-being.

Exercise, even in particularly small, and regulated amounts can help to reduce the severity of certain illnesses by improving the immune system, as well as increasing the overall sense of strength a person feels. This doesn't necessarily mean you should have the over sixty-fives out running laps every morning, or climbing mountains, but fun activities such as dancing can be of fantastic benefit to a senior's health, whilst improving their sense of independence.

Dancing alone is capable of strengthening bones in the body as well as reducing the chances of high blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. Another great thing about dancing is that it can encourage seniors to take part in a social activity, while they're getting the physical activity they need. Dancing can also be a great way to meet new friends and stimulate the mind. Of course, if dancing feels like it is too strenuous an activity, other physical activities such as painting, gardening and baking can contribute to:

  • Increased confidence
  • Better self-esteem
  • Improved physical and mental health
  • A better concept of independence

Finally, why not ask the senior that you are caring for what they would like to do. Some may enjoy reading the morning paper over a cup of coffee with you, whilst others will be eager to socialise and perhaps take part in group activities outside of their homes. By using your imagination, and working together with the senior that you are caring for, you can transform the mundane into memories that will last a life time.

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