It doesn’t take a survey to tell you that older people want to live independently as long as they can. Ask your friends. Few want to be isolated from the community or “taken care of” by well-meaning strangers. Independence is an admirable goal, but you have to recognize that “aging in place” is a process. You may have to prove to family and friends that you are willing to make some changes. Aging has some perks, quite a few actually, but you have to be able to accept the physical and mental changes that will likely occur. Geriatric specialists tell us that we need to focus on maintaining cognitive and physical functions.
Your brain is important to you. It is normal to worry about losing cognitive function. Cognitive function is a classy way or asking whether or not you are losing your marbles. When you can’t remember where you left your car keys you start to worry, especially if it happens more than once. It is true that mental abilities decline with age, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. There are many things you can do to optimize how your brain functions. You can be in control of stimulating your brain, treating depression, staying physically active, eating well, interacting with others, getting plenty of rest and learning to compensate for minor lapses.
You are probably more comfortable about dealing with physical maladies. Physical problems are scary too, but not quite as much so as cognitive decline. You may feel that you have a little more control over your physical attributes but this doesn’t mean that it will be easy. Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. A strong body goes a long way toward warding off many disease processes. A strong and active body will serve you well. Increasing your level of activity will make independent living easier. You must not deny that exercise is a matter of life and health.
Disease prevention should be pretty obvious. Take action. Prevent the health problems that can stand in the way of your ability to live on your own. See your doctor regularly. There are still people who only go to the doctor when they are sick. This is not good enough. Preventing and managing chronic illnesses is important. Living independently is a lofty goal but if you do your part it can happen.
The most import suggestion is recognizing when you need help. Be realistic. There are many resources available, including family and friends (stop telling everyone that you are fine when indeed you are not). You will not be a burden. People actually want to help you; it makes them feel good. Your independence does not hinge on whether or not you have a support system.