One of the strangest parts of your parents getting older is the element of role reversal. When you were young, they took care of you, making sure that you were fed, clothed, and safe. Now that your parent is no longer able to take care of themselves, you must now step up. For many adult children, this can be overwhelming, but it is also rewarding. However, just because you are caring for them, doesn’t mean that it isn’t important for them to have independence. As your parent is more and more reliant on you, it is of even greater importance to them that they have autonomy over their lives in some capacity. Independent seniors have richer, fuller, happier, and healthier lives than those who feel completely dependent on their caregivers. It is crucial that you make a point to prioritize their independence so that they are healthy, both mentally and physically. In this blog, we will explain exactly why it is so important for their health.
Imagine being your parent right now. They have lived as a fully self-reliant adult for years up until recently. Now, as they age, what was once quite simple to do is much more difficult. They can’t rely on themselves to complete many tasks, and some of them might be as straightforward as buttoning their own shirt. This feeling of being less capable of caring for themselves makes many seniors feel depressed, embarrassed, and frustrated. They may feel like they are useless now, and for some seniors, these feelings of loss can translate to the desire to end their life. With greater independence, however, seniors are able to feel a sense of control over themselves and their lives. They are able to maintain dignity and a sense of hope, which in turns, makes them more emotionally healthy and happier with their life.
A lack of independence does not only impact the mental health of seniors, but also their physical health. The more dependent they are on other people, the less likely seniors are to challenge themselves. They have low expectations of what they can do, and as a result, they don’t get out there and participate in physical activity. This causes their physical health to decline. However, the more independent a senior is, the more active they can be. We are at our most healthy when we are active, so by encouraging independence in your parent, they will be better able to join in on physical activities.
Activities That Encourage Independence
There are many ways you can foster independence in your parent. There are many activities that they can do that will help them feel more independent, such as:
- Attending community events
- Maintaining their own hygiene
- Light household chores
- Writing letters and emails
- Making phone calls
- Participating in a group fitness class
- Volunteering with a local community group
- Going for walks with loved ones
- Learning how to use a computer
- Playing games, alone and with others
- Joining a group fitness class
Sometimes, your parent may hesitate to participate in these activities, or they may even flat out refuse to try them. While this can be difficult to deal with, this does not mean you should try to force them. This can actually backfire and make them feel even less autonomous. Instead, gently suggest these activities every so often, then allow them to decide for themselves. Once they do participate in independent behavior, most seniors feel accomplished and are proud of themselves for taking the risk.
When You Need Home Health Care
As important as it is for your parent to be independent, that does not mean they don’t need special care. However, that doesn’t mean you want someone to wait on them hand and foot, discouraging them from being independent. That is when you need the type of home health care worker who will understand your parent’s need for independence. At Gulfshore Private Home Care, we go the extra mile to ensure that your parent has the quality home health care they need to maintain their health while still being their own person. Contact us if you need a home health care worker who understands here in Naples!