The new year is an exciting time: One of new beginnings and the opportunity for change that no other time of year seems to represent.

Now is a good time to take stock of all areas of your life or your elderly loved ones’ lives to make sure they’re prepared for life’s unknowns, especially if they want to continue living independently in their home. After last year and the pandemic that ensued, we’ve learned from that experience that it’s important to be ready for anything.

If not, then what we call the Snowball Effect may occur affecting independence.

But What Is the Snowball Effect?

It happens when one area of our life might be problematic and then it “snowballs” influencing many other areas of our life. If not caught in its tracks, it can become an avalanche where we need a lot of help managing life’s responsibilities eventually leading to complete dependence on others.

Imagine how it would feel if you broke your hip. You’d be in a lot of pain and you’d be physically limited anywhere from a month to a year. When you’re in significant pain, it’s hard to function in all the other aspects of your life.

  • The pain is so bad, which makes it hard to think straight temporarily affecting your cognitive ability.
  • This impact on cognitive ability may make you not want to do something enjoyable with friends, which could then affect your social health.
  • You may be too physically limited to do your volunteering that you enjoy, which then affects your sense of purpose.
  • Then being way from friends and volunteering may make you feel more stressed and isolated and you start to feel worse emotionally.
  • Finally, the cost of care with an ongoing illness could be a financial burden.

This is the snowballing that happens when one area of our life goes awry and then influences many other areas of our life.  But worry not: If the Snowball Effect is recognized early, it can be stopped. All that’s required is a little awareness and asking for help from others.

Independence Can Be Tenuous

To further explain: A similar effect happens with our independence as we age. If we start to lose our cognitive abilities, for instance, it can affect all other areas of our life making us depressed and ultimately isolated.

At that point, we can become less active, lose track of our bills, piles of paper mount, our house becomes unclean and unsafe. We become stuck and more and more dependent on others. It is at that point that we lose our ability to stay safely in our homes.

However, the stage between independence and being reliant on others is called interdependence. This is when we can remain in our homes but might need help with home organization, making and keeping doctor’s appointments, bill paying, housecleaning or coordinating with contractors to do house repairs, to name a few examples.

This interdependence stage is when we (or our loved ones) can stay in our homes but need help with everyday tasks to stay safe — helping to avoid any Snowball Effect.

The take home message is this for 2021: Notice when a potential snowball starts to form. At that point, you (or your loved ones) can ask for help from friends, family or others and remain in your home much longer and avoid the avalanche of complete dependence on others.

 Life Managers & Associates  manages the details of life with the same care as a loving family member to enable clients to live independently. We help them feel safe and supported — saving money and alleviating stress for all.