The Dangers of the Elderly Living Alone

the dangers of the elderly living alone

You know the familiar expression, “you can’t see the forest for the trees?” The same can be true of the way we view the people who are closest to us. Sometimes, the aging process happens so quickly that children and grandchildren don’t realize how vulnerable their aging parents and grandparents really are.Don’t let a tragic incident, or unnecessary injury, take place before you acknowledge the dangers of the elderly living alone. The more proactive you can be to allow your loved ones to age safely in their home or move them to the appropriate facility, the better quality of life they will have.

Why The Elderly Living Alone Is A Bad Idea

Falls.  The greatest danger of elders living alone is their susceptibility to falls. Balance begins to decline throughout the aging process. Poor vision and weakening muscles and bones decrease balance even further. What might have been a small stumble before, resulting in a bruise or a bump on the head, can result in a major injury for the elderly.

Here are some alarming facts and statistics:

  • The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house for senior citizens.
  • Adults who are 75 years and over account for the largest percentage of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) that result in hospitalization and death.
  • Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in adults 65-years and older.
  • Senior citizens are more susceptible to hospital-, surgery-, and anesthesia-related delirium that can last for weeks. This has been linked to other complications and higher mortality rates.

If your aging loved ones have refused to be moved into an assisted living or retirement facility, make sure their home has been adapted for safety. Contact a professional home health care provider who can help make the necessary adaptations, and who can provide health care and/or companion services as needed.

Depression.  The dangers of elderly living alone aren’t always visible on the physical level. When seniors live alone, they are much more likely to become lonely, disinterested in normal day-to-day activities, and depressed. This is a very real concern because depression has been linked to more rapid onset and/or progression of other age-related mental conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

If you have family members who insist on living alone, make sure you know how to recognize senior depression. You may need to be equally insistent that they join a local senior center, participate in a local retirement facility’s day care program, or hire a companion who can visit them weekly, or daily if you aren’t able to do so yourself. Not only will s/he have access to activities, entertainment, and exercise classes specifically designed for seniors, s/he will be a part of a community, which can help to keep depression and loneliness at bay.

General Health And Well-being.  Even without the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s, seniors are prone to be forgetful. One of the dangers of elders living alone is they can forget to take important medicines or can overtake them. Meals, exercise, and basic day-to-day hygiene routines can begin to slip. A home health caregiver is one way to ensure your loved one is taken care of. House cleaning, basic hygiene care, meal preparation, and medication reminders are all well within the scope of a well-trained home health aide. This will allow your aging loved one to remain in his/her home without you having to worry about their day-to-day care.

Not sure if your senior relative(s) should be living alone? Read this article on “What’s Right for You” to determine the right level of care for your loved one and ensure they age as safely as possible.

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