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Is “independence” a misused term in eldercare?

The spirit of the Interdependence Day movement is one that should be studied by the eldercare sector.

Last week our nation celebrated our independence from the British superpower. However, we achieved that independence by one of the most heroic displays of INTERdependence the world has ever seen. We could have just as easily called July 4th INTERdependence Day!

It’s my feeling that “independence" might be an overused or misused term in the business of eldercare.

Several years ago a reader of Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook called me and shared that she though the term “independent living retirement community“ was completely inaccurate. She had been researching these options and had many examples of how and why they should be referred to as something other than independent living.

Her thought was that the correct term would be dependent living, because these settings offered you a choice to be dependent by using a variety of provided services. She wasn’t referring to healthcare; she was referring to things like housekeeping and preparing her meals!

As our country begins to ride the “age wave” there is sure to be a lot of talk about older adults maintaining their “independence”. However, we need to remember we are not fighting a generational war.

I feel that this presents an opportunity for us all to recognize the value of INTERdependence and hopefully label it appropriately. I personally don’t want our elders to stand independently, I want them to share their resources and I want to help them maintain their purpose!


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