Coping with loss of elderly independence

Loss of independence occurs as people age, as they suffer physical, social or emotional setbacks which prevent them from functioning independently. The key to this loss of independence is how easy people find to accept help

What kind of loss of independence do the elderly experience?

Physical and Mental Losses

These can include:

Often hearing loss, poor vision or reduced mobility can have a significant impact on the rest of an older person’s life.

Social Loss

As a result, it is harder to see friends and friendships can begin to fade.

Emotional Loss

  • Loss of independence can create tremendous frustration, feelings of uselessness, and sadness, due to a sense of loss of control in one’s life.

Typical reactions to loss of independence

Reactions are often complicated. These can include:

Fear Some people become frightened by their new vulnerability, wondering how they will manage on their own. Overwhelmed, they begin to expect close friends and family to be always available for them and become overly dependent

Anger. Others feel angry that they can no longer manage on their own and may take their anger out on their loved ones

Guilt. Others feel guilty and refuse help from family  and friends, because they think they will be a burden

•  Confusion. It is not uncommon for people to feel confused about needing help and long for “what was”

How do the elderly deal with their need for assistance?

People vary in their reactions to receiving help. Some are quite comfortable getting help from others, while others are not

Those Comfortable with Asking for Help

Some people have always enjoyed having others do things for them, such as cooking or cleaning the house. Not being able to do these things for themselves, because of a health problem, does not bother them. Some individuals have had to rely on family, friends, or paid caregivers throughout life due to a longstanding health problem, or disability. For them, accepting help does not threaten independence

Those Uncomfortable with asking for Help

Some older adults have gained great pleasure from caring for others during their lives, but are not comfortable receiving help themselves.Others prefer  to manage without help whenever possible. For these people, accepting assistance, particularly from someone outside their family, is difficult.Even the most independent among us have relied on others at some point during our adult lives. Sometimes help comes in the form of a job reference, a financial loan, or moral support

As you grow older your attitudes toward accepting help may change, especially when you experience changes in your health or social life.Those who adapt to accepting help can devote more time to building new and positive experiences

How can you help the elderly to cope with their loss of independence?

  • Be patient with them. It takes time for them to acknowledge their losses and to understand how these are affecting their life now
  • Help them understand  that losing independence is a common experience as people age, and not a sign of personal failure
  • Help them to recognize their feelings and that it’s OK to feel sad and frustrated at times without putting themselves down for not being able to do what they used to do
  • Try to get them to listen to your suggestions about how to make things easier. This is not always easy to do, but there are many ways to keep your elderly relative engaged and interested
  • Try to help them to maintain relationships with loving and caring friends and family
  • Work out what help they need and try to encourage them to accept it
  • Seek help from your GP if you are worried either with your parent or alone has teamed up with Design for Independence Ltd, a private specialist housing occupational therapy company, to help your elderly relatives adapt their home to maintain their independence

Get help now by calling 01799 588056 and quoting ‘myageingparent’

Or fill in the form for more information

Please note that Design for Independence do not provide rehab sessions or services.

Please note that Design for Independence are unable to provide information regarding  local authority provision and eligibility criteria for public funds; please contact your local authority directly for this information.

Disclaimer: All services are provided by Design for Independence and has no responsibility or liability for the products or services provided by Design for Independence. All requests and complaints should be addressed directly to Design for Independence. bears no responsibility for goods and services purchased via third parties featured on this website.



Leave a Response

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Other Care - Care Issues - Coping Articles

Caring for a parent with a terminal illness

17 Oct 17

If you are caring for someone who has been told they may not get better, you…

Caring for elderly from a distance: factsheet

27 Mar 17

What is caring at a distance? The fact that we are living longer is wonderful achievement….

Coping with Bereavement

10 Mar 17

Bereavement is a distressing but common experience. At some point, most of us will suffer the…

Caring for a parent with dementia

14 Feb 17

Watching a parent suffer with dementia is one of the hardest things you will ever do…

Caring for elderly harder than it used to be

14 Dec 16

Most of us were brought up with the fairytale notion of the perfectly happy family As…

From our forum...

11 Dec 15 - loiscurrie
02 Dec 15 - moe

Shop Online - view all

Mattress Online

Online Bed and Mattress Superstore. Huge Range + Free 24hr Delivery! 0000

Find out more


Is your loved one OK today? The 3rings plug tells you the answer, just by Mum…

Find out more

Fresh Start

Get a good night’s sleep with Fresh Start adjustable beds. 0000

Find out more