Let me tell you a secret: I HATE leashes. They’re so restrictive! There’s nothing like a long off-leash romp with my friends to make me feel free, happy and independent. Although you humans don’t wear leashes, I know that you like to feel free, happy and independent too. As you grow older, daily tasks can become challenges, which can lead to feelings of frustration and futility over the loss of independence.
One of my jobs as an experienced therapy dog is to help promote independence in aging humans. This provides a sense of purpose, achievement and self-worth; builds confidence and self-management; and lowers stress levels for caregivers. Here are a few of my tips for staying independent as you age:
Stay as physically active as possible. When exercising becomes part of your everyday routine, you’ll be less likely to stop. Exercise helps to prevent falls by improving your balance and strengthening your muscles. Consistent exercise will also make other daily tasks easier to accomplish. Ask your doctor to recommend exercises that are safe and easy for you to maintain.
Modify your home environment. Make bathing easier by buying a shower chair and converting a fixed shower head to a handheld shower head. Make your home safer by removing loose rugs, adding handrails to stairs and hallways, and making sure you have adequate lighting in dark areas. Download THA Group’s Home Safety Checklist for more tips on keeping your home safe.
Stimulate your brain. There are lots of simple ways to maintain and even increase brain function as you age. Read a good book. My favorite series is Clifford the Big Red Dog by Norman Bridwell. Learn something new – it’s never too late to take up a new hobby or skill. Keeping a daily journal will keep your mind fresh and simultaneously preserve your memories. Challenge your mind by working on Sudoku, jigsaw, and crossword puzzles. Even online gaming has benefits!
Eat well. Healthy eating can help lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, some kinds of cancer, and anemia. Eating well gives you the nutrients needed to keep your body healthy, and it keeps your energy levels up. Ask your doctor about which foods you should include in your diet and which ones to avoid. And remember: moderation is important…or at least that’s what Mom says about the low carb liver treats I love so much!
While we’re on the topic of independence, I would like to wish you all a safe and happy 4th of July. This Independence Day, take a moment to cherish your life and the country you live in while appreciating the sacrifices people have made to give us independence – one of the most valuable gifts that one can enjoy. Thank you to all of our armed forces (including military working dogs and their handlers!) for everything you do to protect and serve our country!
THA Group’s knowledgeable and caring staff provides the support and confidence senior adults need to overcome the fears of aging and live life independently. We recognize the importance of independent living, and strive to help clients reach their goals to live a happy, healthy lifestyle on their own. To learn more about services that promote senior independence and how THA Group can help, call 888-842-4663.