Why is it so difficult for the elderly to give up their independence?
As my late mother used to describe being elderly, "What a lot of people don't understand is that you're just the same on the inside as you've always been. You're still you. You still like the same things and want to do the same things - only because of something like arthritis or other health problem, you can do what you want to do."
I'm not now where my mother was when she said that, but I'm not young either. So, I can vouch for the fact that a person can pretty much feel the same as she did when she was twenty, even when she's had a couple of decades more worth of birthdays.
Does anyone want to give up independence? No - and the elderly are no different.
Besides, I've known a whole lot of very elderly people who remain vibrant and alive, even with a few physical limitations. A bunch of them are still the ones who are more than capable of taking care of "everybody else", and who are doing all kinds of things for people a whole lot younger than they are.
What doesn't help either is that once a person has to rely on anyone else for something, there's a really good chance that's a person who just doesn't get what it is the person who needs the help really wants or needs. A lot of elderly people have expressed one phrase over and over again to me: "What people don't understand is.....". If there's one thing worse than having to rely on people who don't care and don't understand, it's having to rely on people who DO care but don't understand (because a person can't just tell off someone who means well but makes life more miserable with his/her good-but-misguided intentions).
Nobody wants to give up his/her independence. Elderly people are no different.
Thank you for your comment. Everyone should be accorded dignity, that includes the elderly. The elderly need understanding and loving care. They may have to be reasoned with extensively when a change of location or care is needed.
While we have earned the right to behave as children, it does not follow that we want to be treated like children. Attaining a certain chronological age is no call to give up our individual rights provided disease has not stripped us of reason.
As humans we have 3 ages. A chronological age (our actual age), a functional age which is determined by what we can do, and final type of age is a subjective age or how old we feel. We all age differently so a person can have a chronological age of 77 and functional age of 68 or due to illness or injury a person could have a chronological age of 62 and a functional age of 83.
If outside care or support is needed to sustain living in the community rather than an institution, there may be some resistance to the idea of bringing care into the home or accepting help. That resistance can be based in fear; fear of losing control, fear of having strangers in the home, fear of not having the money to pay for services, etc.
There might come a time due to illness, injury or decreased physical function that someone is no longer able to complete certain tasks such as driving, addressing personal care needs, or even homemaking, but we should promote an environment for people in which they can care for themselves. This environment can be created with assistive technology or devices, caregivers, or community resources such as meal preparation and transportation. During these times we should not ask seniors to give up their independence, but we should encourage them remain as independent as possible with help if needed.
Thank you very much for your insight. I agree that the elderly should be independent as long as possible, but when they can no longer take care of themselves, then it is time to take charge and make the needed changes for their health and safety.
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