Adults naturally long to remain living at home independently for as long as possible. According to AARP, 90 percent of adults over age 65 report a desire to live at home. Giving up their homes is commonly associated with negative stereotypes regarding aging. In some cases, they simply just don't want to be a burden to their loved ones by asking for help. Regardless, it sometimes just isn't safe for seniors to live home alone unassisted. There are very real health concerns and risks associated with living at home. Here are 5 of the most common:
Seniors living alone are at a much greater risk of malnutrition. Research shows that seniors who eat alone are less likely to prepare nutritious meals for themselves than those who eat together. The social interaction of gathering for a meal makes it more appealing. Instead of cooking a full meal, they'll often opt for easy-to-prepare snacks or foods that are full of empty calories. In some cases, cooking is just too tiring or too difficult for the individual to do alone. There are also dangers associated with using the stove or the oven, especially if the senior tends to forget to turn appliances off after use.
2. Medication Management
Medication usage typically increases as we age. Adults over 65 commonly take several different medications. Seniors who require daily medication must make sure they are taking the correct dosage each day. Memory or vision problems can cause missed or incorrect dosages, which could be life-threatening. Storing medication properly is also important. Some medications are sensitive to temperature changes or sunlight.
3. Social Isolation
Living along doesn't necessary lead to social isolation, however, it is a predisposing factor. As social contact decreases, the risk rises. Feeling lonely or alone can lead affect the senior's mental and physical well-being. For instance, feeling isolated contributes to depression in addition to a quicker cognitive decline. Humans are naturally wired to be social beings. We crave interaction and need it to thrive.
4. Lack of Help in an Emergency
The risk of falling or experiencing injury increases dramatically after age 65. If your loved one falls or suffers a medical emergency, no one is there to help. Depending on how often the senior has contact with others, it could be hours or days before help is available.
5. Overlooked Medical Symptoms
Other people are often able to detect subtle changes in another person's behavior that the individual may not notice or realize. For example, you may notice your father is becoming increasingly forgetful or tends to repeat himself. He may be turning the volume on the television up higher or suddenly squinting to read. He may not notice these changes within himself or even think they are a big deal. If no one is around to witness the behavior, changes that indicate symptoms of serious underlying conditions or illnesses go overlooked.
As you are learning to deal with the changes that aging can bring, be patient with yourself, patient with your loved one, seek advice and answers to questions, and remember you are not in this alone. Contact a Caring Senior Service team member today!