For seniors, aging in place means living in their own homes as long as possible. As a matter of fact, a recent AARP survey found that up to 80 percent of seniors prefer to age at home. However, although aging at home sounds like a great option, there are significant pitfalls seniors, and their families, should know about:
Chronic Health Conditions
The National Council on Aging tells us that 92 percent of American seniors live with at least one chronic disease. Many, around 77 percent, have more than one. Living with a disease like diabetes, heart disease, or early dementia is challenging enough, but for those seniors living alone, it makes it even more worrisome. With proper care, chronic diseases don’t have to lessen the quality of a person’s life–or the lives of their loved ones.
Your home should be your sanctuary. But for some seniors aging in place, their house can become a safety hazard. Stairs become dangerous obstacles to overcome, significantly increasing the risk of falls or injury. Bathrooms present similar challenges, especially during bathing or showering. Remodeling a house to add safe, senior-friendly features and hardware is a smart option. However, it can be cost-prohibitive, and the process lengthy and disruptive.
In addition to safety issues, aging in place in a family-sized home can bring with it the burden and stress of unexpected home repairs and expenses. Whether maintaining your home yourself or hiring and supervising contractors, home maintenance can drain your energy and financial reserves. It all adds up to less time and energy for the activities you enjoy and self-care.
Increased Isolation, Depression, and Dementia
While most active seniors living at home participate in engaging social activities, maintaining these opportunities can grow to be more challenging over time. When it’s no longer safe to drive, everyday errands and attending social events such as club meetings, worship services, and lunch with friends can become difficult. Asking friends or relatives for a ride is only a short-term solution, as most adult children and younger neighbors have jobs and conflicting family responsibilities that limit their availability.
It’s also common for friends and neighbors to begin moving away to be closer to their own families as they age. With fewer friends nearby and reduced social interaction, some seniors who age in place can quickly lose their zest for life and even experience clinical depression.
Sadly, many older adults who age in place end up staying at home most of the time, with little more to do than watch TV. Studies show that living alone with no brain stimulation is a real danger to cognitive health, and seniors who live in isolation experience dementia-like symptoms and are at higher risk of dementia.
Preventable Health Decline
For seniors who live alone, aging in place can result in a decline in their health that could easily be prevented. For example, a recent widow or widower, uninterested in cooking, will open a can of soup for dinner. Over time, poor nutrition can result in weight loss, reduced energy, and other health issues. Likewise, a senior who fears leaving the house because of perilous stairs or an unsafe neighborhood can quickly lose muscle mass from lack of exercise—ultimately leading to weakness and reduced mobility.
For those living with a spouse, managing their healthcare and their spouse’s healthcare can become overwhelming. For this reason, a spouse caring for their partner will often neglect their health. Simple tasks like refilling a prescription or scheduling a doctor’s appointment seem like too much of a bother. Missing doses and overmedicating are other common serious issues. Many of these situations can be avoided when living in a more supportive environment, such as a senior community that offers assisted living.
Unfortunately, criminals tend to view senior citizens as excellent targets for crime. Criminals assume that seniors live alone and are simply easier to dupe with lies and schemes. Common crimes against seniors include home repair fraud, car theft, robbery, purse snatching, pickpocketing, and monetary scams.
Seniors who have dementia make it particularly easy for identity thieves to steal valuable information such as social security numbers, as well as credit card and bank account details. Thieves will even stoop so low as to go through a senior’s trash to get financial data that may have been accidentally tossed out and not shredded.
Absence of a Support System
Personal safety is important for successful aging, yet seniors who age in place are often living on their own. In the event of an accident or health emergency in the home, most have no one around to come to their aid or notify the family.
The heartbreaking fact is that accidents in the home frequently rob seniors of the opportunity to make their own decisions about their future. This is the case because adult children or other relatives may need to obtain care while the injured party is still incapacitated or recovering. And in a crisis, even the most conscientious person is forced to make choices based on immediate availability rather than preference, careful research, and planning.
The Formula for Successful Aging
More and more seniors are finding that making a move to an assisted living community with a continuum of care, like The Cabana at Jensen Dunes, makes it possible for them to enjoy an active and maintenance-free lifestyle while preserving their independence and maintaining their health. Plus, they can enjoy the companionship of friends and neighbors, along with a life enrichment calendar designed to keep them active and engaged. So, instead of worrying about home maintenance or struggling as a caregiver to a spouse, they feel confident and secure knowing they’ll have access to seamless support and services, should they need them.
If you’d like to learn more about the vibrant lifestyle at The Cabana at Jensen Dunes and the services and amenities that allow every resident to live life to the fullest today and tomorrow, call us at 772-758-1003 or visit our website at www.JensenDunes.com.