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Social engagement plays an important role in maintaining independence

By Stacy Wines, CEO

Independence is something that we crave at every stage of life, including as we age into the later stages of life. At CareWell Services, one of our main focus areas is promoting independence for seniors. One of the ways we can do this for our loved ones as their abilities and needs change is to consider what supports or assistance we can provide to help them remain as independent as possible. 

While it’s important to have tough conversations with aging loved ones before it’s too late, many well-meaning relatives overreact to initial warning signs and limit independence more than is required. Before you take over Dad’s financial life or move Aunt Sue into a nursing home, make sure you understand the severity of the situation and react accordingly. Even though they may not be in a position to do everything on their own, it is important to make sure they have as much independence as possible to keep them happy and healthy as long as possible.

Social engagement plays a significant role in independence. To age successfully, it is helpful for older adults to maintain their social engagement. This may be in their community, among family or friends, or within their church or other group participation. Sometimes you may have to bring the community to your aging loved one. 

I remember as my mom battled cancer, the weaker her body became, the less she was able to maintain social engagement outside of the home. At that point, more people came to visit her at her home. Other than going to the doctor, Mom was pretty much homebound at that point. While she had less socialization due to lack of mobility and transportation, those who visited her did help her maintain social engagement.

Activities for Older Adults

I often hear folks say how they wish they could find activities for their loved ones to have more social interaction. I quickly suggest their local senior center is a great place to interact with others. Card games, puzzles, crafts, dancing, exercise, gardening, billiards, educational lunch and learns, book clubs, and more are offered at senior centers.

Calhoun County is fortunate to have the Kool Family Community Center in Battle Creek, Forks Senior Center in Albion, and Heritage Commons Senior Enrichment Center in Marshall. Barry County aging adults can find a variety of activities and programs at the Barry County Commission on Aging.

It is important to make an effort to engage your aging loved one in their favorite activities to help them maintain independence. This may require you looking differently at how to approach certain activities. Whether it’s going for a stroll, planting flowers, or paying bills, be creative in how you approach them to assist your loved one in doing tasks they enjoy.

It is a difficult balance to help your loved one maintain their independence as they age while keeping them healthy and safe. You may be asking yourself what can be done to help preserve their independence. Call us! We’re here to help. CareWell Services has trained resource specialists to assist you in working through the maze of aging while maintaining independence for your loved one.

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