How Older Adults Can Maintain Their Independence 

As you get older, your physical and mental health will likely decline – but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your independence. If you’re starting to get older, it’s important to work proactively so you can maintain as much health, independence, and autonomy as possible over the next few decades.

How do you do it?

Start Looking Into Home Care Now

You may be able to live completely independently right now, but that shouldn’t stop you from looking into home care options that are available to you. Home care is more affordable and more accessible than most people think, and there are many varieties of home care that could be beneficial for you in the near future.

For example, did you know it’s possible for a friend or family member to serve as your designated home care provider? In the right scenario, you could provide a trusted person or loved one with a steady wage in exchange for keeping you company and helping you live daily life independently. It’s a win-win situation.

Attend All Your Appointments (and Follow Your Doctor’s Advice)

If you want to remain independent, you need to maintain your health. And if you want to maintain your health, it’s important for you to attend all your medical appointments and follow your doctor’s advice at all times. Preventative screenings and regular checkups can help you catch issues before they develop into something worse, and taking your prescribed medications can make sure you live healthily and comfortably for as long as possible.

You may not like all of the recommendations you get from your medical care providers, and you’re welcome to get a second or even a third opinion, but for the most part, you should lean on the expertise of dedicated professionals in this industry.

Physically Exercise

Older adults (ages 65 to 71) who live in houses with stairs have a statistically lower risk of mortality from any cause when compared to older adults living in a house with no stairs. How can that be? Don’t stairs pose a serious risk?

The answer is exercise. Physical exercise is so valuable for your health and your independence that even the incidental exercise of walking up and down the stairs a few times a day is enough to produce a long-term benefit. When you exercise, you keep your bones, muscles, and cardiovascular system in good health, you improve your blood circulation, and you lower your risk for a variety of diseases and conditions. Physical exercise is also the best way to remain mobile as you age.

Your exercise regimen doesn’t have to be completely comprehensive, nor does it need to be intense; even a daily walk around the block is better than nothing. Be sure to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

Pick Up Intellectually Stimulating Hobbies

Remaining independent also requires you to maintain your awareness and your mental health. One of the best things you can do to preserve your mind as you get older is to participate in more intellectually stimulating hobbies. Crossword puzzles, strategy games, and literary analysis are just a few examples – but anything that makes your brain work actively can be valuable.

Be Social

Socialization is important for many reasons. It keeps you connected with the people you love the most. It helps you preserve and access your favorite memories. It helps you relieve stress and makes you feel connected to the world. And it’s a way to have novel experiences regularly, so you don’t feel trapped in an endless, repeating cycle. It’s also effective for mitigating the onset of dementia (and reducing the severity of its symptoms).

Stay in contact with your friends and family members and try to meet up with them in person as often as possible. It’s also a good idea to meet and form bonds with new people, so consider attending more meetups and social events.

Be Open to Making Changes to Your Home

You may hate the idea of being less mobile or flexible than you used to be, but it’s important to remain open to making changes to your home that could support your independence for longer. Shower and bathtub modifications and medical alert systems could be highly valuable.

Avoid Unnecessary Risks

Finally, avoid unnecessary risks. There’s no reason to put yourself in a position where you could seriously injure yourself – and set yourself up for a long, painful recovery. Understand your physical limitations and operate within those parameters.

Nobody likes the prospect of aging, but getting older doesn’t have to devastate your sense of independence. With the right proactive strategies, and a commitment to preserving your independence, you can stay living on your own (and in good health) for a long time. 

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