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Independence – a feeling of autonomy

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Independence is more than just physicality; it is also a feeling. Being out of control is not comfortable. There is something calming about feeling like your life is under control….and under your own personal control. Thus, the feeling of autonomy or self-rule is important to a sense of independence.


In RD’s previous blog, we mentioned an individual who self-managed their assistance in order to remain independent. This individual has “control” over the services they decide to retain. Even after retaining and managing the services, it is important that the older adult be involved in determining the level of assistance. A term used by home health agencies is interactive assistance. Within this assistance program, the older adult is assisted with necessary tasks only. The senior should continue to function in the daily tasks which they remain capable of completing such as light cleaning, folding clothes, shopping or multiple other duties dependent upon their individual capabilities.


Simply involving an older adult in their day offers them a continued sense or self-worth and purpose, even while they receive services. They are not passive recipients of care, rather they are an active participant in their own lives.

Not enough can be said about that feeling of purpose. The idea of finding a meaning in life is nothing new, but it becomes particularly significant in the senior population. One of the most supported theories associated with purpose is the one that suggests there is a correlation between a person’s sense of purpose and their life longevity ( Anecdotally, I’m sure that you have observed the happiness of those residents in your community that are engaged in meaningful activities. A sense of purpose contributes to one’s mental and emotional health.


As providers in senior living, we can contribute towards and encourage a feeling of independence by inclusion of all of our residents in decision-making, even those who may be receiving supportive services. Additionally, we must realize the necessity for our residents to feel purposeful. Our life enrichment should include some opportunities where engagement and growth are facilitated. Such programming contributes to a feeling of purposefulness, thus resulting in longer, happier lives.

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