The decision to move into an assisted living community is a big transition for aging adults. Seniors often fear losing their independence, but a quality senior community will promote autonomy and independence for its residents.
Caregivers and family members do many tasks around the home to help aging adults function well. However, it's all too easy to fall into the habit of doing too much to help, which can impair seniors' sense of autonomy. Caring for ourselves is an essential element of retaining our health and mental faculties as we age. Sadly, if an aging adult loses their independence, the will to live may diminish as well.
However, this doesn't need to be the case! Even the most frail patients can still benefit greatly from completing a few simple activities and feeling more accomplished afterward. With patience and careful attention, you and your loved one's medical team can develop a safe, balanced approach. Here are a few ways that caregivers and family members can support senior living while still allowing aging adults to maintain their autonomy:
- If a senior can't complete every step of an activity on their own, it is still beneficial to help them do as much as possible on their own. Family members and professionals can supervise to ensure safety and offer assistance when necessary.
- Don't stereotype your loved one. Automatically assuming that someone is weak and incapable can negatively impact the way they view themselves, producing more dependence.
- Recognize what a significant achievement it is for your loved one to complete even a small task, like washing a few dishes or getting dressed on their own. A sense of pride and accomplishment will foster independence.
- Remember that there's no need to rush. Sometimes, seniors are perfectly capable of doing activities they've done their whole lives, they just need more time on each task. Be patient and always remember that your loved one's independence and sense of accomplishment is more important than how fast they get dressed.
- Tailor expectations to each individual's ability. By working with your family member's assisted living staff, you can ensure that their daily activities are appropriate to their health conditions.
- Assisted living communities sometimes offer group activities or community classes for residents. Encourage your loved one to participate in a daily routine that will help them feel more confident and social.
- It's impossible to overemphasize how much daily exercise can support happy, healthy senior living! Including even minimal levels of physical activity in their routine helps aging adults stay fit, flexible, and alert.
These are just a few of the ways that senior living can benefit from an assisted living community! While moving into a new community can be a huge change, family and staff members can work to ensure that seniors maintain a dynamic, self-reliant lifestyle. With these ideas in mind, your aging loved one will enjoy a sense of independence long into their golden years.