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How to maintain your independence in your older years

9 October 2019

Local News

Written bySamuel Holmes

How to maintain your independence in your older years

Growing old is inevitable, it happens to us all, and although with age comes experience and wisdom, it can also bring anxiety and worry.


As your body slows down and you’re no longer able to do all the things you once could, it can leave you feeling isolated – and asking for help from family or friends can make you feel like you’re a burden. However, looking at it in a more positive light, it’s the perfect time to look at ways of maintaining your independence.

Ways to maintain your independence in your older years

Keeping our independence for as long as possible as we age is essential to most, if not all of us, as it can be difficult to accept when we can no longer do everything by ourselves. However, there are plenty of things you can do to help you remain proactive, so you don’t feel you’re leaving your loved ones to deal with everything.

You can maintain your independence by:-

1) Making sure your home is suitable for your needs

Whether it means downsizing to a smaller home or having bars or rails fitted to help you around the house, making sure where you live is suited to your needs will help you feel safe. If you’re starting to feel you need a little help getting in and out of the bath, or lowering yourself onto the loo, something as simple as a handrail can make a massive difference to your mobility. However, if baths are proving difficult, transforming the bathroom into a wet room with a shower seat enables you to maintain personal hygiene without the risk of slipping. Stairlifts and ramps are also ideal if you’re struggling with steps as they help to keep you mobile without the worry of trips or falls.

David Ames, owner of Build Works, undertakes larger projects such as wet rooms and adapted bathrooms and has completed several for our customers. Like Radfield Home Care, The Build Works is ‘Support With Confidence Approved’ and we would not hesitate to recommend them to our clients.

David comments:

“At The Build Works, we take great pride in helping people in these situations, by looking at their individual situations and coming up with bespoke solutions to make everyday life just that little bit easier… this could be from the very simple fitting of handrails right through to a major refurbishment of a property… or from the widening of a narrow doorway to allow wheelchair access or to the creation of a wet room environment for more comfortable showering”

“We will firstly, however, take the time to listen to your situation, to fully understand the likely progression of your condition, to ensure that the right solution is provided not just for now… but also for the future. With this in mind we are always happy to work closely with your Occupational Therapist if you have one appointed to you.”

“A practical solution also means something you can be proud of too!”

David Build Works

Pictured: David – Build Works

If you’re looking to renovate a room to aid mobility, visit the Build Works website, or contact them and David will be happy to provide a quote.

2) Getting active, joining clubs and getting your friends and neighbours involved

Staying active will stop your joints and muscles from getting rusty, so if you’re able to, make sure you walk every day (if possible) as, not only will it make you feel sprightlier, the fresh air will brighten your mood.  If you have friends and neighbours you’ve known for a long time (or new ones around your age who have recently moved in), invite them to join a daily or weekly group at a local hall or community centre.

Even a weekly trip to play Bingo will boost your self-esteem and enable you to build a strong support group.

For local support, Bexhill Caring Community is a local charity for older people, providing a wide range of support groups.

Jackie Haggerty Manager explains:-

“Our charity works exclusively for our community, providing services for the elderly, housebound and lonely in Bexhill. At Bexhill Caring Community we are all dedicated to the task of looking after and keeping safe those in our community who are elderly and vulnerable as one day it may be us who needs the help.”

Bexhill Caring Community run activities and monthly outings on their ‘Dial a Ride’ bus and can be contacted on 01424 215116, Monday to Friday between 9:00am and 3:00pm.

 Bexhill Caring Community Activity List.

Monday – Gentle exercise group – 10.30am – 11.30am

Tuesday (Alternate) -The Singing Down Memory Lane Group – 10.30am – 12.30pm

Wednesday – Day Centre – 10:00am – 2:00pm

Friday – Dementia Support Group – Last Friday of each month

3) Learning how to use the internet to shop and stay in touch with loved ones

The internet is an excellent place to stay in touch with family and friends, thanks to video calling apps such as Skype and Zoom. Apps like these put you in touch with loved ones in seconds and being able to see the face of the person you’re talking to can make you feel a lot less isolated.

And talking of isolation, if you’re unsteady on your feet and unable to get out and about regularly, shopping online can make a big difference. However, if you’ve never shopped online, it can feel scary – but it doesn’t need to be.

Learning to shop online can save you a trip to the shops if you have difficulty walking, and it’s usually cheaper too. Having your shopping delivered, whether it’s food or clothing, will make you feel you’ve cracked the online confusion – and you’ll also get to chat to the friendly delivery person when they arrive with your goods.

If you feel anxious about using the internet, the following groups will help put your mind at ease:

Age UK

AgeUK has a useful guide, including tips on how to shop and pay safely online as well as how to spot scams – everything you need for complete peace of mind.

Bexhill Senior Citizens Club

Bexhill Senior Citizens Club are a social club run entirely by volunteers and is aimed at the over 55s. Their Secretary Joseph Fallen explained:

“The club provides a wide range of activities to help keep retired people active, both physically and mentally, and to meet and make friends. We are run and staffed entirely by volunteer helpers. Activities include dancing (three types), table tennis, bowls, pool, Mexican Dominoes, skittles, darts, board games, arts and crafts, creative writing, poetry, DIY, French, and reading.”

They also run a computer group where people can learn computer skills including how to shop online safely and how to use:

  • Email
  • iPads and Windows computers

For the full list of activities, please contact the charity on 01424 212911

4) Put your wishes in place before your death

Doing things to keep yourself safe and active is essential, but so is taking steps to ensure your family and friends don’t have to deal with any big decisions which may cause friction. By following the advice below, you can put your wishes in place, thus easing the load for your loved ones:

Prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney

If you have an accident or get to a stage where you can no longer make decisions for yourself, it’s useful to have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) drawn up.

    An LPA means you appoint one or more people to help make decisions for you.
    There are two types of LPA’s available:
    1.Property and Financial Affairs, and
    2.Health and Welfare

You can choose one or both of the above, and by putting these in place, you’ll give yourself peace of mind that if your health does deteriorate, loved ones will be on hand to make sure life continues as normal as possible.

For more information on how to apply, visit www.gov.uk (processes vary for those living in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

Make a Will

You’re never too young to prepare for what comes after your death, so making a Will means your wishes are adhered to.

A Will ensures your loved ones receive something personal from you, including property, money, jewellery, and other sentimental items which can help them know they’re in your heart after you’re gone.

And, should you wish to donate to a charity, you can include this too.

The procedure for making a lasting power of attorney may seem relatively straightforward but it is littered with pitfalls for the unwary. Making a mistake can be costly and it is always best to use a reputable law firm for future planning. Gaby Hardwicke Solicitors operate across East Sussex and have a specialist team dedicated to the needs of older clients.

Partner Richard Ostle explained:

“We provide expert advice on issues that affect older people, their families, carers and advisers. The team is led by lawyers who are members of Solicitors for the Elderly, a specialist group who support and make a difference to older and vulnerable people. What really sets our older clients’ care team apart, however, is that we go a step further with regular visits to our clients’ homes or nursing homes to check on their welfare. As well as advising on wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney we also handle tax administration, financial administration, matters relating to nursing home fees, investments and general administration”.

You can read more about Gaby Hardwicke Private Client Team by visiting their website  or by contacting them by phone on 01424 435900.

Make plans for your funeral

We’ve all lost loved ones, and the hardest part is the funeral. So, if you can afford to, it’s ideal to make plans.

This can range from choosing your coffin, organising whether you’re to be buried or cremated as well as the music and hymns (if you’re religious) you’d like at your service.

Preparations like this alleviate stress during the grieving period and means you’re able to help your loved ones celebrate your life the way you wish to be remembered.

Prepare a DNAR

A DNAR means ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’ and is put in place by many people. This can be for spiritual reasons, but also because a person is living with a painful or terminal illness and wish to pass away without being revived. You should contact your GP regarding this matter.

Become an organ donor

One of the most amazing things any of us can do is to donate our organs upon our death. By becoming a donor, you can help to save lives for those in need of life-saving organ transplants.

The following website contains all the information you need.


And to ensure nothing is lost, keep all your documents in a safe place and tell your loved ones where they can find them.

Conider Home Care over Residential Care

You may get to a point where coping by yourself or having a partner, family member or friend looking after you becomes too much.
And it’s at times like these many people consider going into residential care. However, residential care can be daunting, especially if you’re independent, but there is another way:

Receive care from your own home

Home Care means you get to stay at home while receiving the help you need when you need it.
By staying in your own home, you’re able to live your life on your terms, which means you wake up, sleep, eat and carry out your hobbies as usual, unlike residential homes where rules are much stricter and may upset your daily routine.

Home care is the perfect balance between maintaining your independence and receiving the assistance you need to continue living a happy, fulfilling life.

How Radfield Home Care can help you

At Radfield Home Care, we offer you personalised, award-winning care in your own home covering a wide range of illnesses and disabilities, including:

  • Terminal illness
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Motor Neurone Disease
  • Arthritis
  • Stroke
  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s

And other physical or mental disabilities, regardless of the severity, through:

  • Respite Care
  • Live-in Care
  • Night Care
  • Palliative Care

And even if you feel you only need help with reminders to take medication, a hand with housework or you’d appreciate a little bit of companionship, our carers are on hand to help you whenever you need us.

For a full list of services, please see read our Home Care Services page.

John and Margaret’s Story

In September 2018, John and Margaret decided they needed help. With them both being in their early-80’s, they were finding it a struggle getting up and down stairs, especially John, who has Asthma.

Margaret takes up the story:

“John and I are both independent, and we decided a long time ago that we wanted to stay in our home for as long as possible. Our daughter lives an hour away, and although we have many friends and helpful neighbours, we didn’t want to burden anyone.

Installing a stair lift helped us immensely because John is very unsteady on his feet now, and with his asthma, climbing stairs was becoming extremely difficult.”

But it wasn’t only a stairlift which helped improve the married couples home life, contacting Radfield Home Care also opened up a new way of living.

“We heard about Radfield Home Care from a neighbour who needed help getting to and from appointments,” says John, “and we thought this was a wonderful idea. Getting out and about has become difficult the past few years, so having a Radfield carer on hand to help pick up prescriptions, shopping and supporting us with hospital and GP appointments has improved our quality of life.”

And knowing Radfield Home Care are on hand should they need us has offered the couple complete peace of mind.

“At the moment we feel we can still do most things for ourselves,” explains Margaret, “but should one of us fall ill, we’ll struggle. Knowing Radfield Home Care can offer Live-in, Night or Palliative care means we know we’re in safe hands when the time comes.”

In Summary

There are many ways to maintain your independence in old age. Adjusting your home, getting your affairs in order before your death, or asking for a little bit of home care goes a long way to helping you keep the routines which make you happy.

Never feel afraid of talking to your family about your needs, because they’re the ones who know you best and love you the most. They’ll be able to support you or even give you ideas on different ways you can remain independent.

Never feel you’re a burden – because you’re not.

If you’d like to know more about how we can help you with home care, contact us today and speak to one of our friendly staff.


Samuel Holmes

Samuel Holmes

Director & Owner

A former social worker, Samuel has a passion for supporting people to lead fulfilling lives.

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