Dealing with the Loss of Independence as We Age

Owner David Hachmeister

By David Hachmeister, Owner, Care & Comfort at Home for Seniors and Veterans

 

“I’ve always taken care of myself.”

Our work can be quite frustrating. In a recent visit with a 90-odd-year-old woman still living independently, I was faced repeatedly with that sentence. Her poor adult kids who had run out of ideas for providing her with care were planning to be gone for two weeks. They knew Mom could no longer be left alone for extended periods of time. Their anxiety was palpable. They needed to go, but they knew their mom’s intractability put her at great risk.

I have seen far too many of these circumstances. We do not get to be over 90 years old within having some inner strength and just plain stubbornness. I tried logic, redirection, and every other idea I could come up with to change her mind. I failed. As I left the consultation with the deeply saddened family, we agreed to stay in touch and hope for some change in her attitude.

Losing our independence, accepting our mortality

So, what is the life lesson? The obvious one is that it’s difficult to deal with an increasing loss of independence, and ultimately, to accept the reality of our own mortality.

However, there are two major ways that we can deal with this.

The first way is to accept that, over time, our physical and mental abilities change. To not accept that fact means to risk running with chaos and dangerous behavior — where sudden and destructive endings would not be uncommon.

The second is to resist being owned by our own habits — doing the same things, the same way, for years and sometimes decades. We think, “I did it yesterday, so I can do it today, too.”  Our desire for immortality lies in our ability to do the same things the same way without variation. But the truth is, as we age, we can no longer do the same things the same way.

Growing old gracefully

Growing old gracefully — accepting our changing circumstances and dealing with them constructively — will take away some of the fear implicit in such unhealthy approaches to aging.

The phrase “God isn’t finished with me” applies until our last breath. Use that knowledge wisely.

At Care & Comfort at Home, while our motto is “We can help,” sometimes we, too, have to accept that we will not always be able to help. But many times our fresh voice makes a big difference in people’s lives. Please let us try.

To learn how Care & Comfort at Home can help you or your loved one, contact us today by calling 630-333-9262 in the Chicago area, area, 720-492-0080 in in the Denver area, or just CLICK HERE to contact us via our online form for either location.