Moving to a retirement home can be a challenging and at times overwhelming transitional time for seniors. However, even for seniors who are enthusiastic about life in retirement homes, many feel as though life in one of these communities can cause a detriment to their independence. This is why it is so important for family members, caregivers and loved ones to take extra steps in order to help seniors living in retirement homes to maintain some level of independence while under care. The good news is, there are several ways to encourage independence among seniors living in retirement communities.
The Importance of Senior Independence In Retirement Homes
While living in a retirement community may make many seniors feel as though they no longer have the same amount of independence that they once did, it is still important for these older adults to feel independent in their new homes. This is because many seniors struggle with feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression while first transitioning to these communities, often feeling as though they cannot live independently on their own in the way they once did.
While retirement communities do come with a number of fantastic benefits, they can also cause seniors to feel as though they must rely on others in order to survive. Studies have found that they can have a negative mental, physical, social and emotional damage on seniors. However, seniors who feel as though they are able to stay independent during care, are not only healthier physically, but mentally, socially and emotionally as well.
Seniors should feel as though they are still able to do things for themselves while first transitioning to any type of senior care. Ensuring that seniors feel independent can ensure that they have the highest possible quality of life as they stay happy and engaged during this exciting time in their lives.
Tips for Encouraging Independence in Seniors
One of the first and most important things to do when helping seniors transition to their life in a retirement home is to encourage them to do things for themselves whenever they can. Many seniors may assume that when they start living in a new community that they need to completely change the way they do things. Many seniors only move to a retirement home or assisted living community because they need a little extra help and supervision to live safely on their own home. It doesn't mean that they have to completely give up doing things for themselves.
Talking about and promoting independence among seniors is the first and most important step in encouraging seniors to maintain the best quality of life possible in their retirement homes. However, there are also other things that loved ones can do to ensure seniors are staying and feeling independent:
- Encourage seniors to keep up with their hobbies and interests. Whether this is knitting in the afternoons or going to meetings with their Red Hat Society club, the more seniors can continue to do while living in their retirement communities that they also did while living at home, the more independent they will feel.
- Help seniors stay physically active. Physical activity is one of the most important components of a senior's overall health and well-being. Physical activity not only has some great cardiovascular benefits and can help seniors release endorphins, it can also help seniors stay healthier so they can stay independent longer. Seniors who exercise daily are likely to be stronger, more flexible and more mobile. They are also likely to fall and more likely to be able to walk around and do things for themselves longer.
- Keeping seniors socially engaged. The more seniors can spend time socializing with friends and family, the more independent they will feel. Seniors not only need to visit with their friends and loved ones, but they need to be able to leave their retirement homes for parties, events, gatherings and holidays. Seniors who have a healthy social life not only tend to feel less isolated, but they are also more likely to have higher self-esteem.
- Consider pet-friendly communities for seniors with four-legged companions. Getting to keep a beloved pet and care for that pet is a great way for seniors to feel independent.
- Encourage seniors to keep doing things for themselves. While some retirement communities will offer services to help seniors dress, bathe and clean, some seniors can handle these activities on their own. Many times, the longer a senior can keep doing activities such as this, the longer they will stay independent. This can be a fine line, as seniors should get the help they need, when they need it, in order to stay safe, but any little thing seniors can do in order keep their sense of independence, the better off they will be.
- Pay attention to the community's legal rights. Every community will have a list of legal rights as residents. Go over this list with a senior before they move into their retirement home so they understand that their new community respects independence and privacy.
- Consider a community that offers ambient monitoring. This is a type of care that uses technology to verify the wellbeing of a resident remotely, so they can respect their privacy while still making sure the seniors stay safe.
- Offering opportunities for mental stimulation. From brain teasers to reading and other fun games, the more mentally engaged a senior is, the longer they can stay independent. Daily mental stimulation not only helps seniors stay mentally sharp longer, but it can also help ward-off the onset of dementia.
- Promotion emotional health. Strong emotional health is a cornerstone of independence in seniors. When elderly adults are no longer emotionally stable they are more likely to become lonely or depressed. Emotionally healthy seniors are more likely to feel connected with their community and more likely to feel strong enough to keep doing things for themselves and keeping themselves active.
One of the best things that family members and loved ones can do for a senior who is transitioning to life in retirement homes is to encourage them to stay as healthy as possible. This includes mental, physical, emotional and mental health. This will not only help any senior maintain a better quality of life, but it can help them stay active, engaged and independent as possible.