So, your parents have decided to join an independent living community. Most families consider this to be a great thing. After all, seniors can feel their families are leaving them behind. In this case, knowing how to Support Seniors in Independent Living is crucial. Also, an independent living facility allows them to meet like-minded people.
What Is an Independent Living Facility?
Great question! We often confuse independent living vs. assisted living; while both have similarities, they are not the same.
Think of a community space or a facility with all the amenities they need. They have their own home or suite. They can garden, and pick up new hobbies. Best of all, they can do all of this without worrying about running out of supplies or having to do chores. It’s a stress-free environment- something that’s crucial for elders.
Yet, it’s often very easy to make it seem like you’re not interested in this decision. Or- if you and your siblings (if you have any) have made this decision, you want to get rid of your parents.
Your elders can easily misconstrue your reaction. So, make sure that you’re as supportive as possible.
Aging and Independent Living
As we age, we sometimes need to make adjustments to the way we live. We may need to downsize our homes, move closer to family or into a retirement community, or make changes to our diet or exercise routine. While these changes can be difficult to accept, there are many resources available to help us age gracefully and live independently for as long as possible.
There are senior living communities, in-home care options, meals on wheels services, transportation services, and more. There are also community centers where we can socialize and participate in activities. By taking advantage of these resources, we can maintain our independence and age with dignity.
For many seniors, these needs are best met by moving to assisted living or independent living facilities. In these communities, they have access to the care and services they need while still being able to live independently. The staff is also available 24 hours a day to assist in the event of an emergency.
We’ve Prepared a Guide for You to Follow
The first step is to ask yourself: how can you support your parent? Whether you’re living with them or not, this decision will impact your relationship with them.
It’s usually very easy for people to miss the mark in such situations. After all, this is a very delicate matter and can set the tone for the rest of your relationship with your parents.
How do you make life easier for your parent as they go to an independent living community? There’s so much to do.
How to Support Elderly Living Independently at Home?
It can be difficult to strike the right balance between providing support and maintaining a loved one’s independence, but there are some strategies that can help.
1. Have regular check-ins
It’s important to have regular check-ins, both in person and over the phone. This will help you to stay up-to-date on your loved one’s health and wellbeing, and to identify any potential problems early on.
2. Encourage community engagement
Encourage your loved ones to stay active and engaged in their community. This could involve joining a senior center or participating in social activities. It would help them fight loneliness and isolation.
3. Be prepared for medical emergencies
Make sure that you know your loved one’s medical history and that you have a list of their current medications. You should also keep a copy of their insurance information on hand.
4. Get help from organizations
There are many volunteer organizations and services that help seniors living alone. Like meals on wheels, medication delivery services, transportation to doctors’ appointments, in-home care services, etc. Note down important contact numbers in a suitable place so that your senior loved ones can take advantage of those.
How Can We Support Seniors in Independent Living?
As a family member, it is your job to ensure that your elderly parents can make their own life choices in a situation where they have to move out.
Remember, there was a time when you had to ask for your parents’ permission to move out. Your parents were there for you during the entire process.
You need to do the same. You must be there for them no matter how complicated the process is. Sure, there will be tears and uncertainty, but you’ve got to do this.
So, with this in mind, here are some ways you can help your elders maintain independence:
1. Let the senior meet the community
It’s so easy to neglect your parents’ opinion while you search for the most luxurious facility possible. But it is vital that you have to ask their opinion. In fact, once you’ve picked out an independent living home for them, let them meet the community.
Alternatively, if they’ve picked one for themselves, have them talk to the people- even if you don’t think it’s the right fit for them. Remember, they’ll be living there. The more comfortable they are with the staff, the better they will do.
2. Let the seniors do what they want to
Following up on the second point, you must let your parents decide. From their eating habits, schedules, and day-to-day needs, they should be able to do it. Of course, if they’re unreasonable, you can always ask the staff to make sure that they take their medication.
They’ll be in this environment for a long time, so they should be able to make this decision.
Most importantly, make your elders understand what independent living is. It is integral that they know that they’ll be on their own and that you won’t always be able to visit them. They need to build an independent life for themselves- one where they’re comfortable. So, don’t interfere. They’re moving into an independent living situation for a reason.
How to Support Seniors in Independent Living after Moving in?
So, now you’ve established what you must do to help maintain independence for your elders. We’ve further categorized ways in which you can continue to do so even after they’ve moved into the independent living facility.
You can involve them in the following departments:
As we’ve covered before, it is crucial that they feel autonomy over their lives. Unfortunately, it’s so easy for elders to think that their opinion doesn’t matter anymore because you’re making the decisions for them.
We can’t stress the importance of seniors believing that they’re independent.
Apart from family and personal decisions, there are plenty of ways to show your parent that you wish to support them. In these situations, the small things matter. So, here’s a list of what you can do to show your support.
- Schedule frequent phone calls or video calls. Ask them about their day and how they’re doing.
- Get the grandkids involved. Have them talk to them about everything that’s going on. Children, especially younger ones, are always excited to tell everyone about what they’re up to. Grandparents are ideal for this.
- Set up social events where they can meet you and the rest of the family.
- Give them a surprise by showing up unannounced.
- Encourage physical exercise and meetings as well. You can ask your parents to join their community’s walking squad or something.
- Exchange recommendations and recipes. The more you engage your parents, the better it will be. You can ask them for your grandmother’s famous recipe you never really know how to make. Anything that will show them that you’re interested.
- Swap stories. After your parents have moved into senior care, the best thing you can do is to listen to them. You don’t see them often enough anyway. Learn about their life- the past and the present.
Why Is it Important for the Elderly to Remain Independent?
By now, you might be asking yourself why it is so necessary to ensure that your parents understand that you’re there for them. After all, they should know that you’re supporting them no matter what. You’ve always done that.
Old age isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t kind to everyone. So, you must vocalize your support and show your elders that you’re there for them. So, we’ve also prepared many reasons why independence is so important for seniors.
1. It helps to maintain a sense of purpose
When your parents are ready to move into an independent living community, they go through a lot. From living with their parents to growing up and getting married, they have also seen you do the same.
It is not uncommon for older people to think there’s no point once their children have grown up. Add medical issues to the mix, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that they lose their sense of purpose.
2. It helps to keep them motivated
We want to add that your seniors remain motivated by remaining independent. For example, if they have specific physical therapies, they won’t give up because they’re old and need someone’s support.
3. It will make them want to stay fit and healthy
We want to reiterate that being independent motivates them to maintain their health. This way, when you visit them, they can greet you and engage in conversation.
You need to Support Seniors in Independent Living with a hint of positivity. After all, this isn’t happening for the worse. Everyone goes into an independent living situation to make things easier. Visit often and stay engaged in their lives, encourage socialization, offer assistance with activities of daily living, and Make sure they have access to the resources they need.
Remind your elders this at every turn. We’re confident that you’ll be able to provide them with the support they need as well as you possibly can! If your elder has any questions about the process, then have them look at this valuable resource. Remember- senior support will go a long way!
Frequently Asked Questions
How to get help for the elderly living alone?
Apart from family and friends, there are a number of ways to get help for the elderly living alone. Here are some of the helpful resources:
- AARP Website
- National Institute on Aging
- Meals on Wheels
- Health Finder
- Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)