Most of the questions surrounding elder care revolve around who will take care of that senior or determining where that senior will reside. However, a more important question that the elderly should be asking is how can they take care of themselves for as long as possible without becoming dependent on the assistance of someone else. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other organizations have put together a list of tips for keeping seniors active and independent longer as they age.
Improve Your Fitness Level
According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors ages 65 and older. Consequently, falls are also one of the biggest threats to independent living for the elderly. In fact, in 2013 over 2.5 million seniors were treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to falls and 20,000 people died as a result.
Increasing your fitness level as a senior can help to prevent falls and lowers the chances of injury if you do happen to trip. In addition, increasing you level of exercise has other benefits like preventing certain chronic illnesses that could jeopardize your independence, such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, certain cancers, and even Alzheimer’s. In fact, some experts have gone as far as saying that regular exercise is the single best thing, physically and emotionally, that an elderly person can do for themselves in their twilight years.
Expand Your Social Connections
A strong social network can also aid in keeping seniors independent longer. It keeps the elderly engaged physically and mentally with others, making them happier overall. Thankfully, with the advent of certain technology and social media websites, expanding your social connections as a senior is easier than ever.
Research has found that elderly people in social isolation is as bad for you as smoking up to fifteen cigarettes per day and can even be worse for a person than being sedentary or obese. In order to stay independent, tend to your current friendships and try to cultivate new ones. Signing up for classes, meeting with neighbors, or joining a club can all help expand social connections.
Arrange for Extra Help
Staying independent longer does not necessarily mean that you have to do everything on your own. If you need some help around the house, yard work completed, or some meals delivered to your home it can all be easily arranged through your children or on the internet. Companies such as TaskRabbit have been created solely to provide seniors with extra help for things like running errands, cleaning the gutters, or shoveling a driveway.
Rethink Your Living Situation
Downsizing your living situation can be one of the best things that a senior can do to stay independent longer. Moving to a place like a condominium where you do not need to take care of yard work and have certain amenities provided for you can help you stay out on your own. Hosted independent living, assisted living communities, or a retirement village are all other options that can still give you a sense of living independently. If you do not want to move from your current home, consider making modifications that will make it easier to get around.