When planning to maintain independence for yourself or an aging loved one, you may immediately think about where to live (aging in place) and how to pay for it. But what about the higher levels of human needs? Can you plan for an enjoyable, fulfilling life into the golden years and beyond?
A five-point independent aging preparation checklist
You can use this checklist to start thinking about and preparing for the things in life that may not appear on a list of basic necessities, but really are just as important to maintaining a senior’s best quality of life and sense of well-being into old age.
- Opportunities to make one’s own choices on a daily basis
- A sense of purpose, dignity, and respect for what one has to offer
- Physical activity that benefits mental acuity and sense of accomplishment
- Social interactions to share of oneself, stay connected, and care about others
- Access to durable medical equipment (assistive devices) and home modifications
What to consider when planning to age independently
The most basic human necessities are physical health and safety. But beyond that, there are several more layers of needs to maintain an independent and fulfilling life—such as love and belonging, self-esteem, and personal growth and experiences.
We want all of these things for ourselves and our loved ones, for as long as we live. And you can plan for them by considering the full human experience of aging.
Understanding “the aging experience”
At any age or stage in life, all human beings share one thing in common: the desire for control over their own lives. Working with aging populations and their family members for as long as I have, I’ve come to understand that maintaining a sense of connection and purpose can be equally important for one’s happiness.
As we age, we experience multiple layers of losses—some big, and others seemingly less consequential, although, just as devastating. For years, researchers have concluded that the single greatest loss associated with aging is the fear of losing one’s independence. But other losses, too—like losing a friend or partner, or no longer feeling valued or needed, or losing one’s hearing, eyesight, or mobility—can be major contributors to the depression often felt by our elders.
Elderly independence can mean different things to different people, and even the caring and well-intentioned can threaten or erode a loved one’s feelings of independence and confidence without realizing it. For example, one mother-daughter pair I counseled years ago discovered that their frustrations stemmed from having never discussed their expectations when mom moved in: the daughter had been serving her mom as an honored guest, while that special treatment was making mom feel excluded from the family.
In-home health care services can help keep independence as you age
BAYADA personal care services are tailor-made for each client to help them enjoy their best quality of life at home with comfort, independence, and dignity. A clinician from your local BAYADA office can help assess your or a loved one’s needs and preferences, personalize a care plan and schedule, and refer you to a full spectrum of community resources to support independent aging.
Family caregivers can’t be there all the time, but when they’re not, BAYADA can be the family you choose. Our home health aides really get to know you, develop relationships, and provide companionship, activity, and meaningful interactions that go beyond physical health and safety—to well-being and contentment. Contact your local BAYADA Home Health Care office to learn how in-home care services can help you or your loved one. Eventually, we all will need some extra help.