The Importance of Independence
Regardless of age, independence is a core value for all of us. We all work for it from the moment that they’re born. Our parents train us to walk and feed ourselves on our own as children, as teenagers, we spend our time trying to earn it (often times far too quickly), in college we enjoy our first true taste of it and as adults we learn what it actually means. The value of independence clearly doesn’t diminish with age, in fact if anything it becomes even more important – particularly in the case of our elderly parents.
For seniors, independence becomes important for different reasons than for many of the rest of us. Often times their independence is the only factor elderly parents can control in their lives. As the varying aspects of their life start to change, aging parents typically aren’t the ones making the big decisions anymore – but they can usually decide that they want to stay at home. Add to that the feeling of confidence and self worth that we all associate with our independence and it becomes very clear why it’s so important for seniors to continue to live independently.
Often times seniors will be able to live on their own with little to no help, but that’s not always the case. There usually comes a time when the car keys need to be taken away because Mom can’t see as well as she needs to. Dad may start to become forgetful and leave the gas stove on from time to time. These are serious issues, certainly, but not necessarily reasons to take them out of their own homes.
In order to keep any meaningful level of independence, it’s important for seniors to take an active part of their own care (as active as possible). When developing a plan on caring for your aging parents, make sure to take a realistic approach to what household duties they can still perform. Your caregiving plan will be quite different if they can still keep the house clean but need someone to drive them to the grocery store than it will be if they have a hard time going through their nighttime routine but are fine behind the wheel.