Independence is one of the hallmarks of adulthood. But as people approach their golden years, they are more likely to experience physical or mental limitations that make it harder to care for themselves. Loss of independence can be a challenge for seniors because it makes them feel less like themselves. It can also impact their sense of value and purpose. Even though the body and mind tend to change with age, it’s still important to maintain some level of independence as long as possible. Here are a few reasons why Elder Care Alliance recommends maintaining as much independence as you can as you grow older.
1. Helps Maintain a Sense of Purpose
Caring for oneself is crucial for maintaining a sense of purpose in life. Being independent involves a variety of big and small achievements. It could be as simple as putting on your shoes and socks or as complicated as managing finances. Older adults who feel productive and have a healthy sense of self-worth are less likely to experience depression and other mental health issues. Science also shows that people with a high sense of purpose tend to live longer and more fulfilling lives.
2. Boosts Cognitive Skills
Your mind is like a muscle. You must challenge it and exercise it to keep it strong and healthy. Anytime you perform an independent task or decide independently, you exercise your brain. Regular mental stimulation is important for maintaining your cognitive skills and staying sharp mentally. Even if you get to a point where you are no longer able to do some physical tasks, you should still try to exercise your mental faculties every day. You can do this by making independent decisions, doing puzzles, and interacting with others.
3. Provides a Sense of Being in Control
Having no control over your life and what happens can be crushing. It’s natural to want to have control over your day-to-day choices and actions. While certain limitations common with advanced age may prevent you from having total control over every aspect of your life, you can still make small but impactful daily decisions. For example, simply choosing what you eat for dinner or wear for the day can help you maintain a sense of control.
4. Helps Foster a Sense of Self
Independence provides a strong sense of self and identity. Senior adults who lose their independence may feel they no longer remember who they are. That’s why any semblance of independence is important in adulthood. Even small activities done independently can help older adults maintain their sense of identity.
5. Maintains Physical Strength and Mobility
The more independent you are, the more you exercise your mind and body. Doing daily tasks requires core balance, muscle strength, and a degree of mobility. From folding laundry to taking a shower, independent actions like these help maintain muscle strength and agility.
Senior life may bring with it reduced independence. This is a natural part of growing older for most people. However, it’s crucial to maintain as much independence as possible for your physical, mental and emotional health.