Ask Charlotte: How Do I Stay Positive When I’ve Lost My Independence?

“I recently moved into assisted living, and I can’t help but feel I gave up all of my independence. I don’t want to continue to feel this way, as I’ve always been a positive person. What can I do to dig myself out of this?”


Dear Catherine,

Several weeks ago, we gathered here for a monthly group called Resilience. This particular day, the topic was “Independence.” What was interesting to me was that we seemed to have as many definitions of “independence” as we had attendees.

When it came to loss of independence, what was a loss to some was a gift to others. An example was one woman who missed being able to cook. Another woman said she rather enjoyed not having to and being waited on every day. Some missed driving a car; others were happy not to have to deal with that issue any longer. For some, managing their own financial affairs was important, while others were happy to turn this responsibility over to a trusted child or financial adviser.

Making one’s own decision seemed to be the most important quality of having independence. It is likely true that you may have lost some independence, but I wonder if you’ve thought of the many ways you continue to be independent.

You may have to be at dinner at a certain time, but can you decide whether to go or not? There may be activities to attend. Can you decide which ones you go to? Were you able to decorate your new apartment? Each day, do you decide what to wear? Do you continue to pay your own bills?

As a positive person, I suspect you are finding new ideas to embrace and new ways to be independent. Have fun doing that!


If you or someone you know would like to submit a question about assisted living to Charlotte, email it to or mail it to Attn: Bloggers at Birches, 215 55th St, Clarendon Hills, IL 60514. To follow The Birches’ blog and see Charlotte’s blog posts as they’re published, click “follow” at the top of this post.