Many elderly parents choose to live alone for various reasons, including maintaining their independence and privacy. However, living independently as an older adult comes with its set of risks. It is essential for their children and caregivers to understand these risks and take proactive measures to ensure their safety and security. This blog is dedicated to exploring those risks and providing practical approaches and lifestyle adjustments for seniors who choose to live alone.
Safety Issues for Elderly Living Alone
As our loved ones grow older, it's natural to worry about their safety, especially if they're living alone. It's important to be aware of any potential safety risks that may arise so that we can take necessary measures to protect their wellbeing and give ourselves peace of mind. Here are some of the most common safety risks that senior citizens may face at home:
- Fall risk. As adults age, they may lose flexibility, balance, and reaction time. Additionally, bones can become weaker. In general, all of these factors put together can increase fall risks. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other falls research, more than one out of four Americans over the age of 65 falls each year.
- Malnutrition. Older adults may not always feel up to fixing themselves a meal, opting for microwavable meals or skipping meals altogether. This can be harmful, especially when working with dietary restrictions with certain medications.
- Accidental overdoses. Medications can sometimes look similar, and for adults with memory problems, the risk of an accidental overdose can increase.
- Overlooked health issues. When living alone, it can be easy to overlook symptoms or illnesses. This can result in them not realizing when their health is slowly declining and causing them not to get the treatment needed.
- Mental health conditions. Older adults may experience depression, anxiety, and general loneliness when living alone. When living alone, it’s important for older adults to try to find a community or a mental health professional to speak to should they have these feelings.
- Financial difficulties. Staying on top of finances can be difficult, especially for seniors with memory issues. If bills are not paid on time, older adults may lose out on necessities, such as water, electricity, and gas.
- Lack of help with everyday activities. Activities that one may take for granted, like checking the mail or vacuuming, can be potentially dangerous for seniors with mobility issues. Getting outside assistance may be necessary for certain tasks.
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Safety Tips for Elderly Living Alone
If you have a senior loved one who chooses to live alone, it is important to have a conversation with them about safety precautions. With your help, your loved one can enjoy the independence of living alone while also feeling safe and secure. Below are some safety precautions for elderly living alone:
- Stay healthy. To prevent risks of falls or other injuries, it is important to stay as healthy as possible. Exercise, a healthy diet, and drinking plenty of water could be life-changing.
- Keep medication on hand. Running out of medication can potentially have devastating consequences. This is why it is important always to have extra on hand to prevent frantic trips to the pharmacy.
- Keep a list of emergency contacts. This can include medical professionals, family and friends. Keep the list by the phone in case any emergency arises.
- Build community. Isolation can contribute to depression and general cognitive decline. Try to keep a circle of friends together and see them regularly to fight these feelings of loneliness.
- Get a disaster kit. This can include blankets, bottled water, dried food, flashlights, and other items that would be useful in a power outage.
- Keep tripping hazards at bay. Keeping the home in general good repair can prevent slips and falls.
- Keep the home safe. Install home security systems, motion-activated lights, grab bars, and other items to keep the home extra safe.
- Get outside assistance when necessary. This can include help with chores and other activities for daily living.
Nurturing Senior Independence While Living Alone
Promoting independence and mental health is crucial for older individuals who live alone. Encouraging your loved ones to participate in stimulating activities, such as gardening or art, can greatly enhance their emotional well-being. Additionally, providing them with access to community resources like senior centers and support groups can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and create a sense of belonging, which can ultimately improve the quality of life for seniors. If you have a senior loved one who could use some extra help, it might be worth considering hiring a caregiver. A caregiver can assist with physical and emotional health, daily tasks, medication management, and companionship.