Loss of Independence   2 comments

Loss of IndepenceWhen we are young, we quickly begin the battles for our own independence in life.  Two and three-year-olds quickly learn to tell parents and caregivers, “I do it!”  From that point forward, each child strives to create more and more independence from their parents and other authority figures.  That independence grows when they reach the age which allows them to drive and especially when they obtain their first vehicle.  The next major step of independence occurs when the individual moves out of their parent’s home.  With each step toward personal independence, there is an increase in pride and self-worth.

Then there is the other side of life.  As a person ages, he/she loses some of their ability to care for their own needs.  There may be some memory loss or other mental changes that impact the person’s abilities.  The physical changes which occur can impact their mobility and/or their steadiness in movement.  When these changes begin to accumulate, there is a need to adjust living arrangements, driving, and other day-to-day tasks.  Each adjustment leads to a reduction of independence on the individual’s part.  This reduction can cause a person to question their worth and often can lead to depression.  Much like a young child, they may even rebel against those who they perceive are trying to reduce their independence.  These times can be very difficult.

Recently, I have been dealing with this other side of life in regards to my father.  I struggle with watching a very independent and strong-willed individual lose that independence.  I struggle with how the changes in his life are impacting his sense of being and his view of the future.  I try to listen and be supportive but know that the answers which I can provide are not the answers he wishes to hear.

So I am reminded of the importance that we place upon personal independence.  I am ever more mindful of those who struggle with the loss of their independence.  I find myself taking my own independence a little less for granted.


Posted September 9, 2014 by thoughtfulbeliever in Uncategorized

2 responses to “Loss of Independence

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  1. As a physician, I deal with this issue frequently. I believe that a significant reason we see this struggle is that our culture places so much emphases on what we do. When we meet somebody new, the first question we usually ask is, “What do you do?” The what defines us far more than the who. Of course it is much more difficult to learn who a person is than what they do. We actually have to spend time with that person to learn who they are; and time is something we rarely have. Because of how others define us, we come to define ourselves by what we do rather than who we are. When we can no longer do what we used to be able to do, we begin to feel we are useless to others. I often hear older patients say, “What good am I? I can’t do anything for anybody.”

    The hard part is changing this perception. It is so engrained in us as we grow and mature that it is hard to suddenly change our view. We need to make sure that we let people know we care for them, love them, not for what they do or did, but for who they are as a person. Especially when it comes to a parent or someone who nurtured us as we were growing, we need to remind them that they were there for us, helped us through tough times and now it is our turn to return the favor. Its hard to convince a parent or close friend that they are loved, valued and needed by us, even if they feel they have nothing to contribute. But we all know the time is coming soon when they will no longer be with us. We need to spend the time available to help them know, we love them for who they are.

  2. Very true Kevin!

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