7 Important Reasons Some Seniors Shouldn't Live Alone
Do you know a senior who lives alone? According to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, over 11 million Americans aged 65 and older live by themselves. Living alone carries a certain peacefulness that many people enjoy. For seniors, though, it can lead to a myriad of problems, some of which can be life-threatening.
1) Increased Risk of Dementia
Living alone isolates seniors from social interaction, which may increase their risk of dementia. According to a study conducted by researchers at Florida State University (FSU), seniors who are isolated and lonely are 40 percent more likely to develop dementia than their socially active counterparts.
Seniors who live alone experience little or no social interaction. Most adults aged 65 and older are retired or otherwise not working, so they don't have coworkers with whom to converse daily. Instead, their only social interaction is the occasional visit from a family member or friend. Social interaction stimulates cognitive function by forcing seniors to process a person's words and develop an appropriate response. When seniors rarely or never experience social interaction, their cognitive function will decline, which may lead to dementia.
2) Medication Management
Statistics show the average adult aged 65 or older takes roughly seven different medications daily. While some of these medications consist of basic over-the-counter (OTC) drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen, others consist of critically important prescription drugs, such as those used to control blood pressure and diabetes.
Unfortunately, seniors who live alone may forget to take their medication according to schedule. They may take the wrong dosage at the wrong time, or they may forget to their medication altogether. And while missing a single dose of aspirin is probably harmless, skipping a dose of insulin can have life-threatening complications for diabetes seniors.
3) Increased Risk of Falling
Living alone places seniors at a greater risk of falling. From loose carpet and disheveled rugs to power cords and steps, there are numerous tripping hazards in a typical home. As a senior's eyesight declines, he or she may struggle to safely navigate his or her home, which could lead to a fall-related injury. If a senior doesn't see a hazard on the floor, he or she may trip over it.
Anyone can injure themselves by falling, but falls are more likely to cause life-threatening complications in seniors than in younger adults. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), falls cause more fatalities in seniors than any other type of physical injury. Seniors have weaker bones than younger adults due to their natural age-related loss of bone density. Therefore, even ground-level falls can cause broken bones that, when combined with preexisting conditions, can pose fatal for seniors.
4) Poor Dieting
A well-balanced diet plays an important role in seniors' health by providing them with vitamins and other essential nutrients. If a senior doesn't consume the right combination of meats, vegetables, fruits and grains, his or her immune system may lack the strength needed to fight off infections.
Seniors who live alone often suffer from malnutrition because they aren't able to cook and prepare their own meals. A senior, for example, many choose convenient foods over nutritious foods if he or she suffers from osteoarthritis. Rather than trying to cook a nutritious meal, which may cause joint pain, the senior may pick up a microwaveable meal or fast food. Regardless, living alone can lead seniors down a path of unhealthy eating that increases their risk of infection. Many seniors need help preparing and cooking nutritious meals that support a balanced diet.
5) Keeping Appointments
It's difficult for seniors to keep track of appointments when living alone. Statistics show 40 percent of all seniors suffer from some degree of memory impairment. The general belief in the medical community is that the human body's natural production of neurological-stimulating hormones and proteins slows down with age. As levels of these hormones and proteins decrease, it causes memory problems for seniors.
Tools are available that can help seniors keep track of appointments, including smart speakers and mobile apps, but they are prone to human error. If the senior doesn't program the right date and time for an upcoming appointment, he or she will likely miss it. Seniors often require the assistance of a friend, family member or caretaker to ensure they don't miss any appointments.
6) Home Maintenance
When living alone, seniors may struggle to maintain their homes. All homes require regular work to main. A senior might be able to perform some home maintenance tasks, such as doing the dishes, but there are probably tasks he or she can't easily or safely perform. As a result, the senior's home can quickly accumulate clutter that promotes an unsafe living environment.
Whether it's mowing the lawn, vacuuming and mopping the floors, or taking out the trash, seniors may need assistance with home maintenance. If a senior lives alone, the burden of home maintenance will be placed entirely on his or her shoulders. Over time, the lack of regular maintenance can lead to a dirty and cluttered home that places the senior at a higher risk of physical injury and illness.
7) Limited Mobility
As seniors age, they may experience mobility problems. Chronic diseases like arthritis and diabetes, as well as age-related loss of bone density and muscle strength, can restrict a senior's mobility. A senior might be able to walk around on flat-level floors, but he or she may struggle to climb up or down stairs.
Seniors who suffer from limited mobility almost always require assistance to move around their homes. Most homes, including single-story houses, have steps. Even if a home only has two or three steps leading up to the front door, seniors may need assistance climbing them if they suffer from limited mobility. With limited mobility, climbing steps can prove difficult and dangerous for seniors.
Living alone comes with a certain sense of tranquility. As a loved one ages, however, he or she may need assistance with otherwise basic daily tasks. Pleasant Escape provides a home-like solution for seniors in the Logansport, Indiana area.