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Should a Senior Live Alone? The Dangers and Risk Factors

Should a Senior Live Alone? The Dangers and Risk Factors

Did you know that living alone comes with certain risks and dangers? Despite this, most of us can observe in our own families that more and more seniors now prefer aging in place.

As baby boomers increase, we’re seeing the number of seniors living alone growing as well. So should they even live alone? Yes, but with caution.

If you have a parent or any senior loved one who wants to live by themselves, this short and easy-to-read guide will give you a better insight into the dangers that accompany their decision and what you can do to help.

Falls and Accidents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in every four seniors reports a fall yearly. Falls can cause serious injuries, such as broken bones and head injuries, and can even be fatal.

There are several risk factors for falls, including weakness and lack of muscle strength, balance problems, vision problems, medications that cause dizziness or drowsiness, and home hazards.

Some of the ways to prevent falls during senior living include exercising to improve strength and balance, wearing shoes with good support, using a cane or walker if needed, removing hazards from home, and having regular vision and hearing checkups.

Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States, and seniors are not excused, especially when they’re living alone.

Symptoms of depression can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Left untreated, depression can lead to serious issues, including suicide.

While some seniors may be able to live alone successfully, it is important to be aware of the risks and dangers associated with senior isolation and to make sure that adequate support is in place to help prevent any issues.

Chronic Health Problems

A senior who lives alone may be at greater risk for chronic health problems. This is due to a lack of social interaction and support from family and friends.

The seniors may also be less able to care for themselves, leading to poorer health. If a senior does live alone, it is important to have a support system in place, such as family or friends who can check in on them regularly.

Additionally, family members should ensure that the senior stays active and engaged in their community and that they receive long term care when necessary.

Medication Errors

Medication errors can occur when seniors are taking multiple medications and are not able to keep track of all of them. They may also occur when the elderly cannot read the labels on their medications or remember the proper dosage.

Additionally, seniors may be more likely to experience side effects from their medications when living alone. These can include dizziness, confusion, and falls.

All of these risks and dangers can be greatly minimized by having a family member or friend check in on the senior regularly and help them with their medications.

Increased Crime Risk

One of the biggest dangers of aging in place is the increased risk of crime. Seniors are easy targets for criminals. They are often weaker and more vulnerable. They may also have more difficulty calling for help.

If you have a senior loved one living alone, install a security system in their home, and ask a neighbor to check on them regularly. Also, leave them a list of emergency phone numbers that they can call when they suspect an impending intrusion.

Undernourishment

When they don’t have enough to eat, their bodies don’t get the nutrients they need to stay strong and healthy.

This can lead to a host of health problems, including weakness, dizziness, and falls. Make sure your senior loved one is eating a balanced diet and getting the nutrients their body needs.

If they’re having trouble preparing meals or getting to the grocery store, be there to help or arrange for someone to be around for them.

Sanitation Issues

Some health problems seniors living alone may be related to poor sanitation. If they don’t have anyone to help them with chores like cleaning and cooking, their living environment can quickly become unsanitary.

This can lead to health problems like respiratory infections, gastrointestinal illnesses, and skin infections. Unsanitary conditions can also exacerbate existing health problems.

Preventing these risks can be as simple as helping the elderly with their housecleaning duties.

Financial Scams

Seniors are often targeted by scammers because they are perceived to be wealthy. They may also be more likely to fall for a scam because they are not usually up to date with what’s happening in the world.

There are a number of steps that family members can take to protect their seniors from fraud. One is teaching them about the different types of scams they may encounter, what to do about them, and regularly reviewing their bank statements and credit reports.

Helping Seniors Who Want to Live Alone

If one or both of your elderly parents insist they want to live alone, have them understand all the risks and dangers of their decision. Nonetheless, with good planning and preparation, assure them they can continue living happily and securely – with your help.

Most importantly, let them feel you’re helping them because you genuinely care and love them. Most seniors feel guilty about being a burden to their families. If you reassure them that they’re not, it will go a long way in preserving their mental health.

Interested in more helpful articles? There’s more for you on our blog!

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