Getting older has its benefits, but some challenges must be navigated to ensure independence while aging. It can be difficult to watch your loved one’s age, not knowing what steps you can take to aid them and give them a solid foundation to stay as independent as they desire.
Yet, you have multiple ways to help and support your loved ones to help maintain their independence. From exploring innovative options like a virtual mailbox to making in-home modifications, there are many options you can consider to help family members age in place and continue to live fulfilling and still very connected lives.
Encourage them to use technology where appropriate
Some seniors are opposed to modern technology. However, getting familiar with the basics of the internet and innovative technology can transform a person’s overall quality of life.
After all, the internet alone can be helpful to loved ones as they lose mobility. They can speak with friends and maintain social connections without leaving their homes. For instance, they can maintain a presence on social media or take advantage of video calling. In doing so, a senior can drastically boost their mental health.
Likewise, the internet opens up the possibility of having access to tools like a virtual mailbox. Services such as iPostal allow you to rent a virtual mailbox for less than $10 a month.
A virtual mailbox is a physical mailing address where your mail and packages are received and stored securely. You can also register it to a business or add your phone to create a virtual office.
Getting a virtual mailbox means you can pick up your older family member’s mail every week or two, but you do not need to worry about it lying outside to be stolen.
Make safety modifications to their home
A home needs to evolve with time to ensure it remains a safe environment for a senior. For instance, falling may become an issue for many seniors. Given that, there is the potential that a senior might get scared of walking, showering, or doing day-to-day tasks without support. Getting stuck in this mindset can lead to isolation and a home feeling like anything but.
The best course of action is to make safety modifications to the home of your aging loved one. Doing so will make them feel safe and comfortable doing things independently.
For example, you can install chair lifts, grab rails, ramps, and modified kitchen utensils. What you need will vary from person to person. You should decide what to install based on the requirements your loved one has.
Build a local network
One of the most effective steps you can take is cultivating a reliable local network of local resources, neighbors, friends, and any other potential source of support. Creating a “little village” can promote self-reliance, encourage a sense of community and belonging, and ensure every responsibility is kept track of without becoming overwhelming.
Get your loved one a mobility scooter
Getting around is one of the biggest challenges for seniors. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to make it easier to walk. Still, you could invest in a mobility scooter, a versatile alternative to the wheelchair.
Some wheelchairs are ill-suited to independent living, leading to seniors feeling isolated when they are home alone because they cannot leave without assistance. However, mobility scooters give seniors the power to go outside, see friends, and travel without the help of their children or loved ones. Additionally, there is a chance that your loved one’s health insurance might completely cover the cost of the mobility scooter.
Schedule time to see your loved ones
Seeing your family members is essential for encouraging independent living and promoting good mental health. After all, seniors may not have many opportunities to socialize. That can lead to a growing sense of isolation and a greater risk of developing conditions like depression. As a result, scheduling social times with senior family members is crucial.
Encourage activities that promote movement
Part of the reason mobility becomes an issue for seniors is muscle atrophy. The best way to fight atrophy is to encourage your loved ones to use their muscles. They do not need to go out for a morning run every day or do circuits, but there are simple workouts that will improve their quality of life.
For example, you can go on walks with your loved ones, take them to the pool, or buy them some light weights. All these measures will help your loved ones maintain their quality of life for longer.
Give them choices
It is crucial to remember that all seniors do not fit in a single box. They have different preferences, so they may want other things that experts might recommend. So, you should always consult them before you make a big decision for them. Let them voice their opinion so that you can make a decision together.
Adjust the way you think of your loved one
Aging in place is an opportunity to reassess how you think of your senior loved one. It might be instinctual that you want to do more for them, but this change has the potential to make your loved ones feel like a burden.
A family member experiencing a different stage in their life does not mean you cannot do fun things with them anymore. So, try to do stuff with them rather than for them whenever practical.
Put yourself in their shoes
Finally, looking at things from your loved one’s perspective is crucial. Think about how they feel and what you can do to make them feel better. Doing so can help you make positive steps to make their life easier.
Aging in place is a process, one that comes with challenges. Yet, it is also an opportunity to embrace many different options to maintain independence and live a fulfilling life. With these nine ways on hand, you can do much to support your loved ones.