Independent living skills are important for anyone to have, no matter how old you are. “Whether you’re a young adult establishing a household for the first time, an older adult maintaining your independence or somewhere in between, there are some foundational skills necessary to thrive while living solo,” says Lynn Wilson, DO, Chief, Section of Geriatrics at Lehigh Valley Health Network and physician with VHP Family Health Center.
Stay Safe and Healthy While Living Alone
As you transition through life stages, certain skills and abilities will help you live independently
Before moving out on your own, you should be able to manage the day-to-day tasks that make up your life. This includes things like:
- Doing laundry
- Withdrawing and depositing money
- Prepping and safely storing food
- Driving or navigating public transportation
- Understanding how to get medical care
You’ll also have to be emotionally ready to be on your own.
“This can take some adjusting to, but with the right skill set, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to live independently,” Wilson says.
Later in life
Older adults have had years to master the skills needed to thrive, but you may begin to struggle with the activities of daily living as you get older. “This can be due to certain health conditions, social isolation or just the natural process of aging,” Wilson says.
Some of the tasks that might become more difficult include:
- Taking medicines as directed
- Managing finances and paying bills
- Going grocery shopping
- Keeping your home tidy
- Controlling your bladder and bowel function
“You can get support for some of these tasks so that you can remain living on your own,” Wilson says. “Professionals like home health nurses, occupational therapists and in-home caregivers can help.” You can also hire help for activities like housekeeping and shopping.
However, if you’re struggling to walk, cook, clean or perform some of the other basic chores of keeping a household running, you may benefit from an assisted living community or a nursing home.
Living alone with a disability
Living alone can be challenging for anyone, but there are a variety of medical conditions, learning disabilities and other factors that can make tasks more difficult for some people than others. Fortunately, there are assistive technologies that can help you overcome obstacles. These include everything from a low-tech magnifying glass to a high-tech computer that helps you communicate.
Supported living arrangements can also make it easier to get assistance with the everyday chores and complex tasks that may be more difficult for you. For resources, look for national organizations related to your disability or talk with your health care provider.