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How to promote independence in elderly people

Why is it Important to Promote Independence in the Elderly?

Losing our independence is something that many people worry will happen as they age, especially if they feel they need some additional support with everyday tasks. The thought of having someone you don’t know in your home, or worse, having to leave your beloved home altogether means that becoming older can be something that many people fear. Asking for help is something that we all find difficult at time, but if it means the difference between continuing to live independently in the home we love or having to leave it, there can be little consider. By remaining as independent as possible at home and being able to play the part you always have in the local community, you’ll also benefit your emotional wellbeing and potentially your physical health too. Feeling that we’re still in control of our own lives means we avoid some of the stresses that can come with ageing and retaining our independence – with a little extra help here and there – will reduce the risk of becoming isolated and the loneliness this can bring.

Promoting independence is something we take very seriously at Helping Hands, in fact it’s what our core values are based on. We have spent more than 30 years supporting our customers at home and promoting their independence at every opportunity – in fact it’s why we’re regarded so highly with everyone we support, and our 2900 reviews on Trustpilot bear this out.


How to Encourage Independent Living for the Elderly

Encouraging people we care about to accept additional support isn’t always easy – it requires compassion, understanding, and diplomacy if we’re going to avoid causing distress. However, when someone we care about is not getting the most out of their life because they won’t ask for help it can cause frustration and upset on both sides. If you’re trying to discuss additional support at home for a loved one always approach the subject gently – and expect to get rebutted at your first attempt! After all, they’ve been managing their own life for many decades and may have brought you up while balancing other responsibilities, so possibly won’t take kindly to being reminded that they’re becoming frailer and less able to manage. Encouraging someone to visualise what a difference it would make to their life is a good way to start, for instance “if we got you a stairlift installed you’d be able to use the upstairs rooms again” or “imagine being able to pop out to the local shops whenever you want if you had a mobility scooter”.

The same approach should be used when talking about additional care needs at home, for instance, “you know how much you miss taking Toby for walks since you had your fall, a carer could come with you so that you wouldn’t worry about going on your own” or “I know you miss baking those amazing cakes; if you had a carer coming in they’d help with that and then clean up afterwards. They’d even make you a cup of tea to go with it.” It sounds simplistic but helping people to see what they’re missing by resisting support may make the conversation flow more easily, rather than pointing out how their additional needs are causing a lack of independence. Turning the conversation from a negative into a positive could make all the difference, so avoid words such as can’t, don’t, or unable for example. Starting a conversation with “you know how you can’t do (…) anymore” or “now that you’re unable to…” is certainly going to upset the person and make them more resistant to the idea of support around the home.


Ways to promote independence in the elderly

Letting them choose their own routine

Being in control of your daily routine is a fundamental part of remaining independent, and with a Helping Hands carer in their home, your loved one will discover that their life is their own to plan and enjoy. We offer home care on both a visiting and live-in basis and equip our customers with the confidence and ability to maintain their independence, even when our carers aren’t there. Having live-in care however means that there will always be someone in your home with you, ready to support you with the necessary tasks and enjoyable activities to keep every day of your routine progressing smoothly. This could involve the time you want to get up and go to bed, when you eat your meals, have a cup of tea, or anything else you enjoy. The advantage of remaining independent at home as opposed to living in a care home means that you choose the time of day these things happen, rather than having to fit in with the care assistant’s schedule.

Hobbies

If your loved one has always enjoyed a particular hobby, then supporting them to do that hobby once again will make them feel more independent. It might have been something home-based, such as baking, painting, or gardening, or something they did in the community, such as walking the dog, bowling, or pottery. With elderly care support at home they can get all of the support they need to get out of the house again and enjoy everything that the community has to offer.

Choosing their own meals

We all have preferences when it comes to what we eat and drink, and part of retaining independence over our own lives is being able to choose every day. Just because someone enjoys porridge or a bacon sandwich doesn’t mean they want to eat it every single day, but sadly too many care homes will ask for a person’s preferences then give them only that. By having meals freshly cooked at home by a carer though choice is the number one priority – while ensuring that nutritional balance is also taken into account. Our carers know to ask what someone wants to eat rather than just cooking it without question, always maintaining a person-centred approach for every one of our customers.

Planning days out and holidays together

Taking a break from time-to-time is essential for everyone; we all need to be away from the everyday occasionally, giving us a chance to experience different things and explore alternative surroundings. Planning to take a trip, have a day out, or go on holiday will make someone feel as if they are still in control of their own leisure time, and if they’re planning to take their carer with them it’s a nice touch to plan it together. If someone is keen to take some time away but they are worrying whether they’ll struggle to cope, taking a carer with them on their holiday will mean they get to enjoy themselves and make the most of the experience. Our carers have supported so many of our customers to go on holiday, visit family members overseas, enjoy a special day out, or just have coffee and cake at a favourite café. Feeling you’re isolated inside your own home can make you lose your self-confidence and lead to a decline in mental health, so having someone else visit or live-in will ensure your loved one is encouraged to make the most of every day.