While more elderly people are opting to live on their own, the determination to maintain independence and a sense of autonomy all throughout the golden years isn’t always in the best interests of seniors. Isolation, unmet nutritional needs and an increased inability to manage basic household tasks are all things that can compromise the well-being of your loved one. Following are several, surprising problems that many aging adults face along with a few tips for mitigating these issues. With the right strategies, your family member can maintain an acceptable life quality despite any significant changes in his or her mobility, cognitive functioning or general health.
Combating Senior Loneliness.
Unfortunately, at this stage of life, many elderly adults are constantly forced to confront their own mortality due to the passing of close friends, their spouses and even close family members such as cousins and siblings. As these social ties are lost, making new ones is sure to be challenging. This is especially true for seniors who no longer have their driving privileges and who may even be partially or fully housebound. Getting out to socialize or engage social activities can be next to impossible. This is often the beginning of isolation.
Isolation occurs when seniors become entirely cut off from outside people. Their own family members may not be geographically nearby and even if seniors have the physical ability to run errands on their own, many recognize the dangers of attempting to set out by themselves in an increasingly fragile and vulnerable state. Not only are isolated seniors at a far greater health risk than those who maintain robust social ties, but they are also subject to intense feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety. When paired with the aches and pains of old age and the boredom that isolation can cause, life can seem hardly worth living.
The Health Risks Of Senior Isolation
The health risk of senior isolation are almost too numerous to count. Seniors who battle constant loneliness may be at risk of harming themselves. Medication management becomes exceedingly difficult as memory and other forms of cognitive functioning decline, but accidental and intentional overdose are a surprising but all too common reality among this demographic. Moreover, seniors living in isolation who slip and fall, run out of groceries or lack the ability to prepare balanced and nutritious meals for themselves, can spend several days living in a state of neglect and discomfort before problems like these are ever discovered and effectively remedied.
There are also mental health risks to consider. One large part of being physically well is maintaining good mental health. People tend to give up on many important parts of their own self-care when life holds little joy. Seniors also lack important mental stimulation when they aren’t socially engaging. Maintaining strong, social ties and regularly engaging in challenging activities that have a clear, social component is critical for keeping the mind sharp and functioning like it should. When seniors are being constantly challenged by stimulating people, new neural pathways are always being formed. When social engagement stops, however, so does this important neurological development.
Keeping Your Senior Loved One Safe
The best way to mitigate the risk of elderly isolation for your loved one is by hiring a home care aide. These professionals can assist seniors with a broad range of essential tasks while allowing them to maintain a clear sense of dignity and autonomy. Their services can include well-checks, transportation support, meal preparation, household chores and more. For seniors who live away from family members, a home care aide can also provide companionship services. This professional can take your loved one on enjoyable outings, whether to his or her favorite restaurant or a movie matinee. With access to a caring, supportive and well-trained, compassionate home care aide, your senior family member will be far less likely to experience isolation, loneliness or depression, much less the serious mental and physical health issues that these things can cause.