With Independence Day just behind us, I got to thinking about what independence means. As Americans, we are fiercely independent. And for our seniors, I think that is even more true. More and more people are choosing to age in place instead of going to assisted living facilities or nursing homes. What does “Aging in Place” mean? Well just how it sounds, to grow old in your own home, and more and more people are choosing to do just that.
When you Google “Aging in Place” or talk to people about it you predominately find two things. The first is home modifications. Making your home easier and safer to live in allows you to stay there longer. The other subject I found a lot of information about was assistance in the home such as home care and caregivers to help with shopping, dressing, bathing, and other tasks. But what is so disappointing in my profession, is there was very little about actually keeping the person safer and more independent by improving their health and mobility!
The need for home modifications and home care assistance all stem from one of two things, cognitive deficits, and physical deficits. You might ask what could I possibly do to improve my cognitive and physical abilities? Well, EXERCISE!!!! Regular progressive exercise programs have been shown to guard against dementia, and improve strength and balance. One of the most important words in that statement is “progressive”. This means that your exercise program should progress, get progressively more challenging.
There are several options for older adults to stay physically active. Senior centers and interest groups are providing virtual classes. YouTube has a huge variety or balance and strengthening classes for older adults. But what you must be sure of, is to find a class that is both safe and challenging. What doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you.
At Agewell Senior Fitness we bring fitness right to your home. Our trainers are experienced with all older adults and all kinds of health conditions. Personally, I feel the fitness world needs to step up to the plate and help this population. Not all older adults are active but most all of them can benefit from a regular progressive exercise program.
So when you are looking at ways to age in place, or if you are concerned about a loved one remaining safe and independent in their own home, home modifications and home care are excellent ways to reach that goal. But don’t forget about improving the mobility and strength of the person living at home. Improving strength and balance through a regular progressive exercise program is another key to maintaining independence at home, and maybe the most important one.