When it comes to caring for aging family and friends, many of us, understandably, focus on securing the right healthcare and appropriate housing to ensure they’re well cared for and safe. Unfortunately, in the rush to make these decisions, it’s too easy to overlook the ongoing need to preserve dignity and independence.
Dignity and independence go hand-in-hand but are distinct:
The dictionary defines dignity as: “the state of being worthy, honored or esteemed.” For aging individuals, dignity is usually about being treated as a competent, intelligent, deserving person – just as they were earlier in their lives.
The dictionary defines independence as: “The ability to make decisions and live your life free from the control of other people.” For our aging loved ones, independence usually means self-reliance, the ability to make decisions about living arrangements, finances, social life, and more.
Even for our most senior family members, ensuring a primary decision-making role is essential to preserving both dignity and independence – which means that listening and engaging in conversations about healthcare, living arrangements, and finances is essential.
Here are six tips for continuing to support your aging family members and friends:
- Support connections – Remaining active in the community, staying connected with family and friends, and keeping a routine helps everyone – including aging individuals – thrive. Fostering connections helps improve overall well-being.
- Consider mobility issues – A problem with mobility may be the only thing getting in the way of a person’s independence. Evaluate whether installing a ramp or purchasing a walker would solve the problem. And if driving is an issue, offer to explore alternative transportation services in the community.
- Facilitate independent personal care – Installing shower chairs and railings makes it easier for aging individuals with mobility concerns to safely manage their own personal care routines.
- Set up financial guardrails – Older individuals are particularly vulnerable to fraud, scams, and theft. Offering to help set up automatic bill payments and financial alerts is a smart preventative measure.
- Suggest a well-check – If you’re concerned that your family member or friend is having physical or mental difficulties that haven’t been addressed, ask him if you can help schedule a medical check-up and transportation to the appointment if needed.
- Discuss nutrition – As we age, appetites can dwindle and we may be less willing to cook healthy meals. Home delivered meal services solve both challenges by delivering nutritious meals that are ready to heat and eat right to the home. Mom’s Meals NourishCare delivers refrigerated, condition-appropriate meals around the country.