Independence Day is being celebrated soon and the older our country is getting, so too is its generation of baby boomers. Do you know any? Maybe you are one, or maybe you are a younger adult who, like an older adult, highly values your independence!
No matter what age, there are four things we can do to live with more independence:
- Have Essential Needs Delivered to the Door
Healthy eating is an essential component in ensuring physical and emotional wellbeing. Basic needs like groceries and medicine refills can be delivered to the door, especially when driving is a challenge. To make things a bit simpler, efficient, consider online grocery shopping to help reduce the physical stress of standing in line at the local market store.
Many baby boomers already use the Internet regularly, and on average, they spend more money online than younger generations, consider learning how to grocery shop online. Today, online grocery stores allow customers to set up shopping lists for easy reordering, and with access to a wide selection of produce, poultry, and even laundry detergent. A visit to an online catalogue can make life much easier for adults of any age.
If you know someone who is not comfortable using the computer or going online, you or a professional Carer can place the order and simply request that it be delivered to their door.
- Organize Living Space
People often consider how they can properly prepare a home for aging, be it for themselves or their parents. The home should be a haven. Recognize when and where common needs or hazards may arise in key areas like the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Some common and basic additions include: Installing bathroom rails to offer support when walking to avoid unexpected slips and falls. Lower shelves for easier access to items. Add more lighting and remove floor hazards. These changes around the home are basic and simple to do, and can provide an added measure of confidence, particularly if you live alone.
Technology can play a significant role in creating a safe environment. By simply using a tablet or smartphone, you can instantly review video footage of key areas in near real-time, and remotely control lights, locks and thermostats.
- Ensuring Health Care Measures
It’s very important to understand our own medical needs and the medical needs of those you love and care for. Be aware of how frequently doctors’ appointments should occur, and how to best maintain an exercise practice. Use mobile health tools to act as reminders for upcoming doctors’ appointments or medications. Remain sensitive to changes in health, and be proactive. You can use a calendar app to keep notes and track changes.
Feelings of loneliness can have health consequences among all people and especially the elderly. Research indicates that loneliness increases the risk of an untimely death by 45 percent among the elderly, according to a study by the University of California, San Francisco. [i]
Meaningful emotional contact is essential for an aging person — even simple gestures, such as having someone listen and share words of encouragement can positively influence morale. Seven out of ten seniors own a cell phone. Mobile video chat can make visual communication possible with adult children/family and friends who live outside the region, or within the same city. Even if an initial training session is necessary, the ability to view each other’s faces will be life giving.
- Prepare for an Emergency
We are often concerned when elderly loved ones are home alone, especially since one out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year. [ii] This can become a major crisis if no one is present to help assist when they fall. Keep in mind, the same concern exists for any adult living alone. The U.S. Census data from March of 2017 reported 28% of U.S. households are lived in by a single person.
When falls and acute medical events (such as heart attacks or strokes) occur, each second that passes matters. Consider a personal emergency response systems (PERS), which allow you to easily and quickly call for help in an emergency by pushing a button. Also, mobile PERS solutions can go one step further to bridge the perfect balance between care and freedom. They include things like GPS capability, which could help locate you in the event of an accident, automatic fall detection, and two-way phone communication, giving new meaning to independence for the healthy aging population as well as those living with chronic conditions.
If you value independence, there are resources to make life easier and support the freedom of living independently. Consider which of the four suggestions you want to do first. The more you do, the more independent you will be.
[i] Carla M. Perissinotto, MD, MHS; Irena Stijacic Center, MA; Kenneth E. Covinsky, MD, MPH “Loneliness in Older Persons: A Predictor of Functional Decline and Death,” Arch Intern Med., 2012
[ii] Hausdorff JM, Rios DA, Edelber HK. Gait variability and fall risk in community-living older adults: a 1-year prospective study. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2001; 82(8):1050-6.