Why staying independent is important to the health and well-being of seniors

Feb 16, 2023, 1:16 PM | Updated: 1:29 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Independence is important to the physical and mental well-being of every person, none more so than seniors.

Research has shown that 90% of seniors expressed wanting to remain in their home as long as possible, and that autonomy and making decisions for yourself make a dramatic difference in your overall quality of life.

“Our older adults have been living on their own, making their own decisions, and we want them to be able to continue to do that,” said Nels Holmgren, director of Aging and Adult Services for the state of Utah.

Holmgren suggests these things to improve the safety of seniors: tacking down rugs, installing grab bars in the bathroom, installing a ramp for front stairs, and reducing clutter and tripping hazards.

All things that Kimo Pokini and his husband took into consideration when they became caregivers.

“it is a challenge, but it’s also hugely rewarding for us because we get to spend this time so closely to them and see them flourish in their older years,” said Pokini.

Pokini moved his 91-year-old mother and his husband’s 95-year-old father into their home just over six years ago. Before they moved in, they installed a full kitchen, railings and grab bars in the bathroom, and a railing on the outside of their home with help from the department of Veteran Affairs.

“I wanted to make sure that he had all of those conveniences so he could keep his independence as long as he possibly could,” said Stanley Stensrud, Pokini’s husband.

Grant Stensrud and Rose Pokini love living in their apartment in their son’s basement.

“It’s a wonderful place because we have our sons taking care of us,” said Rose Pokini.

“With Kimo and Stanley and roses help, I get along real fine,” said Grant Stensrud, who has lived independently for most of his life. “I’m very independent here, I get up and make my own bed, take my own showers,” he said.

He said he keeps busy by exercising on his bike, painting and driving around in his car.

“My license is good until I am 100,” he said.

Rose keeps her skills and mind sharp by crocheting things for those in need.

“I just feel so happy everyday thinking who else can I help,” said Pokini.

Both Rose and Grant say they appreciate their sons help, because staying independent is important to them.

“It makes me feel good to be independent and so far, I’ve been doing pretty good at it,” she said.

“If I don’t stay independent ill become a useless old crank,” he said.

The Utah State Aging Services has resources to help with things like delivering meals to your home, or even installing ramps, and grab bars. More information can be found on their website.

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Why staying independent is important to the health and well-being of seniors