Are seniors supposed to be living alone, or do they need to turn to senior living in the Chicago area? This question is one of the most debated topics in households where family members try to convince seniors to move into assisted living, but seniors reject the proposal. The persuasion tends to be challenging because seniors prefer living alone than being bunched up with strangers in an unfamiliar environment.
A report by the Administration on Aging found that 36% of women and 20% of men 65 years old and above are living alone. Aging in place is what they prefer. Seniors would rather stay in their own homes and accept the risks than have to adjust to a new environment where their independence might be jeopardized. These concerns stem from a lack of information. If seniors knew more about the risks of living alone, they would likely value the help and assistance senior living communities offer.
Falls are common, especially among the elderly. CDC reports 36 million fall cases each year, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four older adults falls each year, making it a public health concern.
However, it’s essential to know that even though it’s one of the leading causes of injury and injury death in this particular age group, it’s not considered a normal part of aging.
Even though it’s a minor fall, it can still cause extensive damage to the elderly due to their aging bodies. Remember that their bones are not as strong as they used to be while they were younger. The healing process takes much longer too.
While broken bones can be hazardous, what’s more concerning are hip fractures and brain injuries. When seniors fall, they must receive medical attention right away to minimize the extent of the damage. Besides physical injuries, falls can also have psychological effects. Seniors will be traumatized and become fearful of falling again.
Seniors are prone to experience loneliness and social isolation. Loneliness and social isolation are not the same, but they are related in some ways. Loneliness is described as a feeling of being alone.
Meanwhile, social isolation is having a limited number of people you interact with regularly. However, some people can live alone and not feel lonely, while others still feel lonely even though they are around people.
But studies show that older adults are more at risk for loneliness and social isolation because of the changes in their health and social connections. The loss of loved ones, trouble getting around, memory loss, and physical decline are some of the factors that contribute to social isolation.
How can feelings of loneliness and isolation affect the health of the elderly? You wouldn’t guess it, but lonely or socially isolated people are more likely to be admitted to a nursing home or hospital. Studies found that these emotional responses are associated with an increased risk for the following:
Alcohol and smoking are common habits among lonely people. Furthermore, they don't get enough exercise and sleep, which increases their risk of serious health problems. When people are lonely, they start to lose connection with the community, and their perceptions about others and the world begin to change. They become suspicious and cautious of other people.
Interestingly, there’s also a link between social isolation and loneliness to brain health. Lonely and socially isolated people have a poor cognitive function and are more prone to dementia.
Being sad or lonely is not synonymous with depression. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by a loss of concentration, motivation, interest, energy, and appetite. Many seniors suffer from undiagnosed depression. Research shows that depression is one of the symptoms of social isolation.
The majority of the elderly population who are living alone are depressed without even realizing it. However, if someone lives with them, they’ll have a different outlook on what’s happening.
Malnutrition is common among seniors living alone, especially if they used to have someone to make their meals for them. Research shows malnutrition can be a symptom of poverty, anxiety, or depression.
Besides these, malnutrition can also result from seniors not being able to cook for themselves or eat on time, like when they have memory issues. Unfortunately, not getting enough nutrients in the diet can lead to a weak immune system, poor wound healing, a high risk of hospitalization, and muscle weakness, making them susceptible to falls, injuries, and fractures.
It can be challenging for seniors to take their medications on time if they are battling with memory issues, like in the case of dementia or Alzheimer’s. They can either forget to take them or forget they already took their meds. Under dosage and overdosage of medications can often lead to relapse or exacerbation of the patient’s condition or, worse, death.
Seniors are prone to overdosing as they can take the medication several times a day instead of following the prescribed dosage.
There is no doubt the reason why seniors prefer to live in their homes is so they can maintain their independence. Living alone is not a health risk if the elderly are mentally and physically capable, but if your loved ones are showing symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s, being alone can be dangerous.
Senior living communities offer 24/7 services and supervision for seniors who need an extra hand with daily activities without compromising their independence.
Although we’d like to respect the wishes of the elderly to continue living on their own, sometimes it’s not the best option for them, especially if their condition puts their health and safety on the line. The best you can do is to find a suitable living arrangement to give them the help they need whenever necessary.
At Senior Living Experts, our advisors will work closely with you to find the perfect fit for your loved ones. We have been working with over 230 communities in the Chicagoland area. Rest assured that we can help you find what you need. Contact us today to learn more.