Black seniors

Saturday 27 April 2024

5 ways to help seniors maintain their independence

Older adulthood can be one of the most fulfilling times in a person’s life, but many of us
worry about losing our independence. Whether you’re looking ahead for your future self or
thinking of ways to help older family members, here are five ideas to help seniors age in
place and stay independent for longer.

  1. Nourish a zest for life
    Isolation can be hard on anyone’s mental health, and seniors may be especially at risk.
    Moving the body, engaging the mind and being a part of community can go a long way to help
    seniors maintain independence. These activities can help sustain day-to-day motivation and a zest for life. While
    older seniors may not have as much strength or stamina as they once did, there are still ways to be active and
    engaged, including through social activity groups geared to seniors.
  2. Look for main-floor living
    Most homes have a main-floor kitchen, but what about a bathroom and bedroom? Having these spaces on one
    floor can help an older senior live comfortably and safely, even if stairs become a significant challenge or risk for
    them. Open floorplans with wide doorways and hallways – and room to manoeuvere in them – are also features
    that help inhabitants age in place gracefully. These should be top of mind if renovations or downsizing are in
  3. Make simple home updates
    Small changes at home can extend the time someone can feasibly live there independently. These are just a few:
    Install grab bars in the bathroom and put a stool to sit on in the walk-in shower; swap out round doorknobs for
    lever-style handles that require less strength and dexterity to use – especially for those with arthritis; keep
    storage within easy reach and take advantage of pull-out cabinet systems and full-extension drawers for ease of
  4. See about support
    Seniors and their families don’t have to navigate the challenges of getting old alone. Beyond the support of friends and other family members, health-care professionals like doctors or occupational therapists can help. For example, an occupational therapist can do a home assessment to identify potential hazards or help build strategies that make it safer and easier for seniors to do the things that matter to them, from personal hygiene to
  5. Embrace helpful tools
    Health-care professionals might suggest tools to make life easier and more enjoyable, such as hearing aids or a walker. These assistive devices can be a major source of safety, as well as a confidence booster when they enable someone to continue living independently. The sooner a tool is embraced, the easier and quicker it is to get comfortable using it.
    In Ontario, occupational therapists are regulated by the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario. Find out more about what they do and what to expect from an appointment at