Humans have an innate desire for independence and autonomy, so when faced with restrictions on our independence, it can severely impact our well-being. 

Reduced independence is often prevalent in cases of limited mobility for the elderly and people with disabilities. Therefore, supporting independent living is crucial for these individuals’ emotional and mental health.

It’s important to understand that independent living isn’t about doing everything alone, but about having the support and adaptations to live life on one’s own terms. 

We explore what this means and more in this comprehensive blog.

The Importance Of Independence And Control

The psychological impact of losing control over one’s life can be huge. 

When our independence is compromised, it can affect us in many ways. We may need more support from others, we may not be able to do the things we used to enjoy, and we may have decisions taken away from us. 

Because of these factors, people who don’t have much independence often experience feelings of helplessness, frustration, and even loss of identity.

Independent living allows people to make their own choices, maintain routines, and engage in meaningful activities – all factors that contribute to positive mental well-being. The term ‘independent living’ is often misunderstood; it’s not that a person should be able to live entirely alone, but instead, a focus should be on ensuring individuals have a voice and as much independence as they choose in a world that hasn’t been designed to suit them.

Mental Health Benefits Of Independent Living

Let’s run through the benefits of independent living that positively affect emotional and mental health.

Increased Self-Esteem And Confidence

Going about the day and managing even the most mundane tasks independently helps build a sense of accomplishment and boosts self-worth.

Reduced Feelings Of Isolation And Loneliness

Independent living promotes and facilitates social opportunities with friends, family, and the wider community.

Sense Of Purpose

Being able to make decisions, set goals, and be supported in seeing them through, fosters a greater sense of agency. 

Reduced Stress And Anxiety

When people have the support they need to navigate their daily lives with as little assistance as possible, their worries and anxieties can be significantly lowered. 

Independent Living for the Elderly

Older people face many challenges as they age, including declining muscle strength, weakening bones and reduced mobility. They are also more susceptible to health conditions that lead to reduced energy and function. 

While hospital and care facilities are necessary in some situations, many older people prefer to stay in their own homes rather than move. To remain in place, many homes require adaptations that improve the accessibility and safety of the property. Its these changes that help to facilitate the benefits of independent living. We’re talking about changes like…

Grab Rails

Grab rails are simple pieces of safety kit that can be easily installed. They enable individuals to maintain balance or find respite whilst standing and also hold some weight whilst the individual is sitting or lifting.


Steps can be challenging and unsafe. Access ramps make getting in and out of properties with raised thresholds easier for the elderly – particularly those with mobility needs, such as individuals who use a wheelchair or walker. 

Bathroom Adaptations

Raised-height toilets, accessible sinks and level-access showers are key bathroom adaptations for many older people. You can read more about adapting bathrooms here.

Kitchen Adaptations

Lowered worktops, accessible sinks, perch stools and smart storage like pull-down cupboard baskets and open cupboards all help elderly people navigate their kitchens safely and easily. Here’s a link to our blog on adapting kitchens.

kitchen adaptations for the elderly2

Lighting Changes

Ageing eyes in particular need more light to see clearly. Bright overhead lights, as well as spotlights installed over areas like worktops, help to illuminate the whole room effectively, providing support for independence during kitchen tasks. 

By using some or all of these home improvements, people can independently overcome the challenges associated with old age, allowing them to continue living with confidence.

Maintaining independence can reduce feelings of infantilisation, dependence, loneliness and isolation, positively impacting mental health.

Independent Living For People With Disabilities

A well-adapted living environment can transform the lives of people with disabilities. Among the numerous benefits of independent living, you’ll find greater levels of self-confidence and enhanced participation in all aspects of life come high on the list.

Improving the home with adaptations is an important aspect of creating an environment that better meets both physical and mental needs. 

Common home improvements include;

Adapted Bathrooms

For individuals living with disability, the bathroom can present many challenges.

Replacing a standard toilet with a raised-height one, which puts far less strain on the body to use, can provide autonomy for toileting. If the muscle movements involved in toileting are too difficult, washer-dryer toilets like this Gerberit AquaClean can help.

Geberit AquaClean Accessible Toilets

Level-access showers are a common bathing solution that removes the trip hazard of the shower tray lip. These showers can be walked or wheeled into and are designed with safety in mind, increasing independence for those with reduced mobility. 

Adapted Kitchens

For wheelchair users, permanently lowering a section of kitchen countertop or installing rise-and-fall worktops that can be adjusted to the perfect height vastly improves independence in kitchen tasks. 

Replacing a standard sink with a shallow version makes it much easier to reach down to the bottom to retrieve cutlery and crockery. The addition of lever or sensor taps can further improve the experience where manual dexterity is an issue.

When it comes to storing goods, pull-down baskets in high cupboards can be helpful, and carousel base units provide more room for storage as well as being user-friendly. 


Ramps between split-level rooms and external ramps that make it safer to get into and out of the home are essential for many disabled people living at home. There are many different types, from concrete to fold-up, and we discuss them in our helpful ramp blog here


Proper lighting can transform an individual’s independence at home and make the environment safer at the same time. Consider adding LED strips up the stair tread, motion sensor lights for larger areas and spotlights in spaces where more visibility is needed.

A home that allows a person to carry out their activities and perform self-care tasks independently, directly and positively, impacts mental health.

Independence Provides Freedom And Purpose

Enhanced self-esteem, reduced isolation, improved sense of purpose, and diminished stress are just some of the mental health benefits of independent living.

Independent living doesn’t mean being unsupported. It’s about having the right support, the right tools and the right resources to enjoy a full and happy life.

Looking for ways to enhance independent living for yourself, a loved one or a client? The John Ford Group can help. See our website to find out more about us.