Older people often say they want to keep their independence. This means being able to carry out the tasks of independent living. These include:

  • maintaining one’s homecaring for others
  • socialising with friends, relatives, neighbours and in larger networkslooking after pets
  • using the telephone
  • using transport
  • managing finances
  • preparing meals
  • shopping for necessities
  • managing medications
  • keeping active.

Strategies for independence

  • Be aware of older people’s roles, both past and present.
  • Provide opportunities for people to use skills and past experience.
  • Encourage people to learn new skills, including problem-solving skills.
  • Involve the person in healthcare decisions and daily life experiences.
  • Introduce aids and appliances such as hearing aids and walking frames.
  • Reduce fear of falling, which can restrict independence. Equipment that enables people to call for help may restore self-confidence and mobility.
  • Think about advance care planning to have a sense of independence about important health decisions.

Case study - a model hostess

We went out on an outing and one of our residents, a lady who has dementia, was going around making sure everyone was enjoying themselves and had enough to eat. She had no recollection of the trip when we returned home, but she said she had a lovely time. She was used to being a model hostess, and this gave her the chance to use those skills again.