Maintaining our independence as we age

Published 12:02 pm Monday, August 28, 2023

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One fact of life that we cannot escape is the longer we live, the older we become. And as we grow into our senior years, our bodies and minds don’t always function as they did in our younger selves. As the child of octogenarians, I worry about them but am also fiercely committed to them maintaining their independence as long as possible. 

Today’s article focuses on things we can do to stay safe, healthy, and independent longer.

Living on our own can be challenging as we age, and it’s essential to ensure that our homes are safe. First, we must eliminate the misconception that accepting help from family and friends is the beginning of the slippery slope toward dependence and losing control of your life. We must realize that some help may go a long way to remaining independent for as long as possible. 

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Always keep a list of emergency numbers readily available in large print to read in an urgent situation easily. Make sure to include numbers for:

  • 911
  • Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
  • Family member or friend to call in case of an emergency
  • Healthcare provider’s office




Another sad fact is some predators target older people. Every year millions of older Americans are victimized by elder fraud. These scams target seniors who are too trusting and have sizable savings. Here are ways to protect yourself:


  • Forget your courtesy.Con artists take advantage of your generation’s manners. If a stranger calls with a deal too good to be true or asks for money, simply hang up the phone.
  • Check out strangers.Don’t feel pressured by someone asking you to make an immediate decision. Request written information about the topic, review it carefully and ensure you understand all the risks before deciding.

• Never judge by the sound of a voice. Seniors often say the swindler sounded like such a nice person. Successful con artists sound professional and friendly and can make even the flimsiest deals sound as good as gold. 

  • Don’t let fear cloud your judgment.Scammers play on your fears that you may outlive your savings or see your financial resources evaporate overnight from an economic collapse or health event. 

Always talk with friends, family, or your lawyer before agreeing to any offer or situation from an unsolicited phone call or email. Always talk over offers made by telephone salespeople with trusted family or a friend. Do not share social security numbers, credit card/bank information, or account passwords, with people you do not know.




Next, what if you’re alone and fall or have a health event? What will you do? Consider a waterproof safety alert button on your wrist or as a pendant 24/7. These devices can alert 911 at the touch of a button.

Below are additional common-sense tips for keeping your life safer:


  • If you have balance difficulties, request a “fall risk assessment” from your healthcare provider.
  • Wear non-slip footwear that fits well. 
  • If you have a cane or a walker, always use it. 
  • Keep all hallways, stairs, and rooms well-lit and clutter-free.
  • Use handrails when going up and down the stairs. 
  • Tape area rugs to the floor so they do not move or remove them to avoid trip hazards.
  • Don’t try to put out fires in your home. Call 911 and leave your home immediately.
  • Don’t wear loose-fitting clothes when cooking
  • Don’t put many electric cords into one socket or extension cord.
  • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from combustibles. 
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom to make getting around more accessible and safer. 
  • Use rubber mats in the bathtub to prevent slipping.
  • Never heat your home with a stove, oven, or grill as they can give off carbon monoxide.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms & replace batteries bi-annually.
  • Keep all medications in their original containers to avoid mixing prescriptions.
  • Have your pharmacist use large-print labels on your medications.
  • Never mix cleaning liquids. When combined, cleaning liquids can create deadly gases.
  • Always keep windows and doors locked. 
  • Don’t allow an uninvited stranger into your home.


Consider using delivery services from grocery stores, pharmacies, and restaurants when needed, or explore senior centers, churches, or community transportation services for affordable rides to take you to the store or the doctor. There are resources that may be available to assist you!

When activities like bathing, dressing, and cooking become difficult, you may be able to consider utilizing a licensed private-duty care provider in your home or moving into one of the wonderful senior living environments in our community. 

In summary, please don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t need any help. That thinking may create risk and injury. Hopefully, these tips and suggestions help you retain your independence in a safe manner!