Dealing With Loss Of Elder Independence

As we age, we find ourselves dependent on others to help with our daily tasks. What were once effortless activities now become difficult to accomplish. Loss of independence can make us feel helpless with no control over our lives.  Feelings of grief, frustration and other emotional upsets seem to overwhelm us with no hope in sight.

Loss of independence can cause sleep difficulties, mood changes, social isolation as well as appetite changes, neglecting personal care or depression. These symptoms have a major impact on quality of life.

Loss of independence can include:

  • Losing sight or hearing
  • Difficulty walking
  • Less flexible
  • Lift objects or open jars
  • Reduced physical energy to clean or cook
  • Moments of confusion
  • Reluctance to ask for help
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Forgetting appointments
  • Staying indoors most of the time

To help manage and prepare for loss of independence, the following tips may help.

yellow and white ceramic coffee mug on brown wooden surface with black eyeglasses

Stay Organized

Be consistent in daily routines to help reduce anxiety and feelings of being anxious.

  • Create a to-do list using a planner. It can keep track of all your tasks in one place.
  • Our brains are hardwired to love routine so make sure you have a daily routine.
  • Prepare the night before so you are organized as soon as you wake up.
  • Keep everything in it’s right place.
  • Focus on one task at a time.

Organize Your Home

  • Raise stored items to waist height:
    • Store items above your upper thigh. Bending can become an issue for many seniors. Raise laundry baskets and other items that may cause someone to bend.
  • Clear clutter and add lights:
    • Add railings to steps and add lights to dark areas in the home.
  • Hang baskets on walls near stairs:
    •  Hang baskets on walls near stairs so items can be brought up the steps without having to remember.
  • Buy small sturdy rolling carts:
    • Small sturdy rolling carts are very handy in the kitchen or moving items from one room to another.
  • Remove furniture:
    • Remove furniture that is no longer used in your home. This will reduce clutter, prevent tripping over furniture and provide more space at the same time. Use multipurpose items like a table that also has storge for documents.
  • Post a copy of medication list on refrigerator:
    •  A protected medicine list can include information such as where it’s located, how often used, doctor’s name and phone number.
  • Keep valuables protected:
    • Let another family member know where your valuables are stored. They can also be stored in a safety deposit box at a bank.
  • Keep bills in one place:
    • Buy an accordian folder with large labels where you can store bills.
  • Create ‘Who Does What List’:
    • If you have more than one child, this list would contain names, phone numbers and email addresses. Beside each name write the tasks your children or other caregivers are responsible for (such as a driver).
  • Create a Daily Used Items Area:
    • Store things in one area that used daily in your day to day activities. Use labelled bins to store items such as medicine, vitamins, eye glasses, pencils/pens and notepads.

Read here for more information on home modifications for seniors.

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