We are living in the Decade of Healthy Ageing. UN declared 2021-2030 as the decade of healthy ageing as part of an agenda for sustainable development, leaving no one behind. One of the identified action items to achieve this is urging governments globally to support healthy ageing. It translates to senior independence with less hospitalisation and healthcare expenses.
Today we’ll delve into the most important aspect of senior independence:
- Physical independence that guarantees mobility
- Emotional independence that aids happy living
- Financial independence that gives freedom of choice
- Social independence that gives a sense of inclusivity
- Physical independence
Physical independence is the ability to move freely without depending on others. Being healthy is the best way to retain your mobility. To remain healthy, one must focus on diet. Back it up with regular exercise because it matters. Periodic health check-ups are a must, even if you feel there are no specific issues.
However, you must understand the needs of your ageing body and act accordingly. It would mean ensuring an accident-free home, as one of the main reasons seniors lose mobility is sustaining injuries through falls. Audit your home and make necessary changes for a safe living environment, such as installing grab bars, using anti-skid mats, exploring smart home systems, etc. If you have any balance issues, avail mobility aids and wear practical attire such as comfortable clothing and shoes.
- Emotional independence
As we age, the cell metabolism in our body flounders a bit. Studies say people with higher cognitive enrichment can tolerate more wear and tear in their brains, delaying cognitive decline. How do we go about it? Through activities that give joy, like travelling, partaking in hobbies, learning something new, etc.
Also, start with an acceptance of the situation. For example, if your kids are away try to visit each other and spend quality time together whenever possible. For the part where you expect their support, build an alternate network. This network must include known people for healthcare needs, household work, etc. You could also become members of senior communities like Samarth, which offer value-added services to fill the void created by your kids’ absence.
- Financial independence
Financial independence is at the crux of senior independence. If you are financially dependent on others, it will severely curb your decision-making capabilities. Making the right choices for your healthcare, living environment, seeking emotional support, etc., can become challenging.
Invest wisely by seeking information through trustworthy avenues to ensure your money is safe. If you depend on anyone for your transactions, the chances of fraud or mismanagement rise. These days, with online investment platforms, people have so many options. To the extent possible, avoid debts, as paying them back can take the joy out of your retired life. Watch the movie Ramprasad ki terhvi, which beautifully depicts the scenarios when a family discusses a pending loan repayment after their dad’s death in front of their surviving mother.
Health insurance is a must in your financial planning to manage contingencies. Ensure your financial planning also covers estate planning to streamline things for your family when you are no longer there. It is also essential to seek awareness about various frauds that occur these days. Keep your ears and eyes open and never do anything in panic, as scamsters capitalise on that. Learn to identify possible fraud scenarios and follow up with complaints if something happens.
- Social independence
We don’t discuss senior abuse enough in our country, though it does happen. Understand there is no shame in seeking help in a worst-case scenario. Know your rights and stand up for them if anyone abuses you verbally, physically, financially, etc. Being socially independent requires updating yourself to use new technology. Keep yourself active and happy by engaging in social activities that give you happiness.
Seniors are an essential part of our society, and they should assert their right to live independently and participate equally in nation-building activities. Grab that chance and walk the talk to become an inspiration to the people around you.