There are two ways to determine a person’s ability to live independently. The first consideration is how well you are able to manage your own personal care. Personal care refers to the basic functions of every day living, which includes things like bathing, toileting, feeding oneself, transferring from bed to chair, and walking.
The second consideration falls under the category of non-personal care. Non-personal care involves tasks such as preparing meals, shopping, paying bills, using the telephone, cleaning the house, writing and reading.
A person is considered disabled or dependent when he or she cannot perform at least some of these activities without assistance. It is important to recognize that this dependency is not purely a function of physical impairment but represents, especially in the elderly, a mixture of physical and cognitive impairment. Dr. John W. Rowe, M.D. reminds us in his book “Successful Aging,” that few older people actually live in nursing homes, and that a sizeable number of them are fully functioning and living in the community with varying degrees of assistance.
.Disability is often caused by a disease process, or as is often the case with older people, a combination of several diseases. Medical intervention has come a long way toward prevention and management of common disease processes. Lifestyle factors like diet and exercise also play important roles. Another consideration is how older people perceive their own health status. Research tells us that many older adults have a positive view of their own health, which tells how well they have adapted to their disabilities. It is a known fact that people are living longer and are healthier than ever.
There is increasing evidence that the rate of physical aging is not, as once believed, determined by genes alone. Lifestyle factors, which can be changed, have a powerful influence as well. Dr Rowe M. D. writes that the combination of longer life and less illness is adding life to years as well as years to life.