January 20, 2021

6 Ways to Maintain Independence in Old Age

6 Ways to Maintain Independence in Old Age

It is well known that aging tends to bring health complications, and because of this, many people will try to ignore symptoms, aches, and pains or dismiss them as just ‘part of getting older’. In reality, you can take steps to enhance your health and overall wellbeing at every age, and taking action to stay healthy and catch problems early will help make your golden years as exciting and rewarding as your youth.

Here are six ways to increase the likelihood that you will be able to maintain your independence for as long as possible in your old age and live life to the full. 


  • Prevention is better than cure


While it is true that not every ache needs to be seen by a doctor, when an aspect of your health is affecting your quality of life on a long-term basis, or you develop a new symptom, you should see a doctor. Most issues will probably be nothing to worry about, but catching small problems early can make a huge difference to the outcome. Whether you are losing your eyesight, hearing, having bladder control issues, or problems with your mobility, help is available, which could make a big difference. Be sure to attend all your routine check-ups and see a doctor as soon as you notice a change in your health. 


  • Stay physically active


There is no getting away from the fact that our bodies change throughout our lives, and the older we get, the more significant these changes become. Aging usually means that our muscles lose mass, bones become weaker, and joints can stiffen, making it difficult to move as we once did. In order to stay mobile and independent for as long as possible, it is important to maintain a regular exercise routine. This does not necessarily mean that you need to join a gym or put yourself through a grueling workout regime, as this can sometimes do more harm than good. Walking, climbing stairs, and doing stretches are all effective forms of exercise that can make a big difference to your mobility. 


  • Train your brain


Almost everybody’s brain begins to slow in terms of cognitive functioning (e.g., slower thinking process, reduced problem-solving abilities, memory problems) as they age, but a significant decline is not inevitable. There are steps you can take to keep your brain healthy, including regular exercise (which increases blood flow to the brain), proper diet, adequate sleep, and hydration. You should also continue using your brain to solve crosswords and puzzles, reading, and writing, completing jigsaw puzzles, playing chess, and other games that require mental agility. Like lifting weights will strengthen your muscles, mental activity strengthens the brain and prevents cognitive decline. 


  • Maintain a social life


Maintaining social connections and meaningful relationships is key not only for your emotional wellbeing and mental health but also for your physical health. Retiring from work and getting older can often mean that we lose touch with our social circle, especially when the people we know move away, become unwell, or pass away. Isolation can lead to poor self-esteem, a loss of identity, depression, and anxiety, all of which can have a significant impact on your physical health. 

It can be difficult to make new friends at a later stage in life, but it is absolutely possible to do so if you are proactive and open-minded. Consider joining a club or group which interests you and/or take up a new hobby that will introduce you to likeminded people of your generation. Another possibility is moving to a senior living community like Belmont Village, where you can retain your independence and take part in social events, community projects, and exercise classes. 


  • Keep learning and trying new experiences


We are never too old to learn new tricks, and often it is only our perception of ourselves which holds up back from stepping outside our comfort zone. If we settle into a routine and never shake things up, we become stuck in a rut that is hard to get out of. The key to staving off stagnation is to keep trying to learn new skills and take part in new experiences. It is true that cognitive functioning can slow with age, and some skills are harder to master late in life, but the act of trying is often enough to boost your confidence and keep the brain sharp. 

Consider signing up for a class at the local college or community center, volunteering with an organization, or teaching yourself a skill. You could learn a language, play a musical instrument, paint or draw, or create crafts. Alternatively, you could take up a physical activity like yoga, dancing, or golf as this will also help to keep your body healthy


  • Learn to love technology


We all know that older people are often stereotyped as being illiterate when it comes to using technology, and while this is not true of all, there are lots of senior citizens who are still resistant to using technology. Nowadays, technology is so intertwined with daily life that it is more difficult to avoid it than it is to embrace it. The truth is that technology can help older people to live independently. 

We can now use the internet to shop, manage our finances, and even attend medical appointments and order medication. In addition to the daily tasks, we can use technology to find entertainment and communicate with loved ones via social media or video calls, no matter where they are in the world. Using smart home technology, we can also use a phone app to adjust a heating thermostat, turn on the kettle, switch lights on and off, and even answer the door without moving a muscle

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what technology can accomplish today. The best part is that it has all been designed to be as intuitive as possible, meaning that just about anyone can learn to use it to their advantage. 

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