Written By Clarissa Rice
All of us are trying to become and to remain independent, which is the ability to control or govern ourselves to be self reliant. We often think that dependence, relying on others for support or aid, is a sign of weakness or not admirable. There is another way of relating and that is to become interdependent: the ability to depend on one another or mutual dependence.
Interdependence assumes that each person can stand alone but at times can lean on others when needed or desired. As seniors, we are aware that we are losing some of our independence, that we are having to rely or lean on others more often for help.
Many times we feel angry or ashamed to be burdens on others, especially family. If we are fiercely independent, it is even worse. We have a very hard time accepting help graciously. We fight against this acceptance because it makes us feel too vulnerable or too weak. We are afraid of losing control. We are used to being the strong ones or very proud and don’t want to be burdens on others. No matter your age, let us all work on the ability to be interdependent or mutually dependent. There is strength in the ability to accept help or advice when needed and also to be able to stand alone as necessary. It is a given that most of us who are lucky enough to reach our 80s and 90s will eventually need to accept more help. We don’t emphasize often enough how learning to trust others and seek assistance when needed are valuable life skills.
It is also a sign of good mental health to realistically accept our place in life and make the necessary adaptations. Moving to a senior center is one step in the continuous adjustment we make in life along the way. Congratulations to us for seeking out a lifestyle where we can both remain as independent as possible and receive the assistance we eventually may need. Our goal must be to remain as independent as we can for as long as we can in as many areas as we can before becoming burdens to our families. Then, our hope should be that we can lean on others graciously and gratefully receiving the assistance we may need and most certainly deserve.