Independence is a precious value for many people, especially older adults. It gives them dignity, purpose, and happiness. However, getting older naturally brings on challenges that can affect their independence.
Helping our older loved ones conserve their autonomy while giving them the assistance they need can be a balancing act. However, there are targeted steps you can take to empower seniors to lead healthy and fulfilling lives. In honor of National Senior Independence Month, here are our tips to help your loved ones maintain independent lifestyles into their golden years.
Foster Social Connections
Social isolation can lead to loneliness and negatively impact mental health – especially in seniors. You can help by encouraging loved ones to participate in community events, clubs, or volunteer opportunities. Virtual options like video calls can also be a great way to stay in touch. A simple phone call or a weekly coffee date with a friend can contribute significantly to their overall well-being and motivate them to maintain their independence.
Make Home Modifications
Adjusting the living environment to cater to the changing needs of seniors is a crucial aspect of promoting independence. Consider simple modifications such as installing handrails in bathrooms, motion activated lighting, and anti-slip mats. These adjustments not only enhance safety but also empower seniors to navigate their homes with confidence.
Regular exercise helps maintain strength, balance, and flexibility – key components of independent living. Urge older adults to find an activity they enjoy, whether it’s daily walks, yoga, or even gardening. Signing up for a class is a great way to learn the proper forms to prevent injury, get in some socialization, and turn exercise into a habit. If you have a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement Plan, you may be eligible for free exercise classes through the Silver Sneakers program.
Ensure a Proper Diet
Proper nutrition ensures that older adults have the health and vigor to engage in daily activities independently, as well as reduce their risk for age-related illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. Help your loved ones plan well-balanced meals focusing on the nutrients they need most.
Find Transportation Solutions
For many people, maintaining independence often hinges on the ability to freely get around. If your loved one no longer drives, explore budget-friendly local transportation options that will meet their needs, such as:
- City of Miami’s On-Demand Transportation Service
- City of North Miami’s NoMi Express Trolley
- Jewish Community Services Senior Ride Program
- Freebee (requires app download) provides free, on-demand transportation
By ensuring reliable transportation, you can empower older adults to attend medical appointments and social events or manage daily errands without dependency on others.
For more than 20 years, Miami Jewish Health has been championing senior independence through Florida PACE Centers. PACE (the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) is a federally funded Medicare and Medicaid benefit that works as an alternative to nursing home care by supporting seniors who prefer to age in place. By offering comprehensive and coordinated medical, social, and home care services, PACE enables seniors to maintain their independence while receiving the personalized care they need. If you or a loved one is interested in PACE, visit floridaPACEcenters.org to learn more.