A recent survey by the Disabled Living Foundation (DLG) found that people were now more afraid than ever of losing their independence in old age. More than two thirds of people surveyed were worried about being a burden on their friends and family or having to move into a nursing home. An ageing population means more pressures on benefits and health care, so it’s far more desirable for people to remain living at home.
With the right health care, support and information available today it’s much easier for older people to live independently for as long as possible.
The importance of living independently
Losing their independence is a worry for many older people and for those with ageing parents. It might come about slowly like small changes to their mobility, memory problems or even the inability to drive anymore, that sets in motion a challenge to their independent lifestyle. They may become frustrated that their freedoms are slipping away and might be reluctant to ask for help or tell their family what’s really happening. Regardless of age, a change of living arrangements can have a negative impact on people’s emotions and mental health.
People want to remain in control over their own lives, to be able to do things for themselves and carry out everyday living tasks independently, like dressing, bathing and cooking. Christine Shaw, DLG’s chief executive.
With the right information, structure and help, living independently is a realistic goal for many older people. There are three areas to consider when thinking about the best way to maintain independence.
- Health care and services.
- Advice and technology.
- Equipment and home modifications.
Health care and services
Good physical health is a major factor in one’s ability to remain independent. Regardless of age or physical ability, no-one wants to be a burden on their friends or family. However, it’s inevitable that as we get older our needs change and we may need to focus on staying healthy a bit more.
Health care provisions should be planned and monitored by a medical practitioner, but we can do a lot ourselves. It’s important to remember the mental and emotional side of health care. Being active, meeting people, doing new things and taking part in enjoyable hobbies, are all achievable activities that help people be independent.
Advice and technology
Sometimes it’s just knowing what support is available that can make a difference. In the UK, there are a number of charities such as Age UK or Independent Age that offer services and advice specifically about what you can do to stay in your home.
Personal alarm services have long been an established piece of equipment for older people. They are great for peace of mind because help is never far away. Technology is also becoming an attractive alternative. Voice activated devices such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri not only let individuals get help by making calls but can be used to set reminders to take medicines or just enjoy the music they like. Unlike the conspicuous personal alarm pendants, it’s also something the grandkids would envy.
Equipment and home modifications
One of the challenges of remaining in your home is to make sure that it’s comfortable and safe to do so. Modifications can be made even before you need them and with an eye to your requirements in the future.
Access ramps, grab rails and ensuring there is enough space to move around safely are things to consider. Having a clear out so there is enough room to walk around without tripping over furniture is a simple way to make your home safe. This is particularly important if a walker or stick is used. A change of flooring, especially in the kitchen, can reduce slippages.
At Aquability, we specialise in bathroom modifications to maintain independent bathing. We have a wide range of accessible bathrooms, low access showers and walk-in baths to help with independent bathing.
If you’d like to discuss what remodelling can be made to your bathroom to help you keep your independence, please call us for a free, no obligation chat on our freephone: 0800 316 0115.