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The True Risks of Seniors Staying at Home

For a senior, aging in place means living in his or her own home for as long as possible. A recent AARP survey found that up to 80 percent of seniors prefer to age at home. However, although remaining at home sounds like a great option, there are significant pitfalls for seniors and their families. Here are some things to consider when considering whether to stay at home or move to a senior living community:

Chronic Health Conditions

The National Council on Aging tells us that 92 percent of American seniors are living 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 the proper lifestyle, care, and support, chronic diseases don’t have to lessen the quality of a person’s life—or the lives of their loved ones.

Senior Home Hazards

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 be challenging. It brings 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 self-care and the activities you enjoy.

Increased Isolation, Depression, and Dementia

While most active seniors living at home participate in social activities, maintaining these opportunities can grow challenging over time. When it’s no longer safe to drive, everyday errands and attending social events can become difficult. This can mean the end of club meetings, worship services, and lunch with friends. Asking friends or relatives for a ride is only a short-term solution. 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 move away as they age, to be closer to their own families. The result is fewer friends nearby and reduced social interaction. This can cause some seniors who age in place to lose their zest for life and even experience clinical depression.

Sadly, older adults who age in place can end up at home most of the time. Consequently, this leaves them with little more to do than watch TV. Studies show that living alone with no brain stimulation is a real danger to cognitive health. Seniors who live in isolation often 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 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 with a fear of leaving the house because of perilous stairs can quickly lose muscle mass from lack of exercise. And a sedentary lifestyle can ultimately lead to weakness and reduced mobility.

For others, managing their healthcare, or the healthcare of a spouse, can become overwhelming. A spouse caring for their partner will often neglect his or her own 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 supportive environment, such as a senior community with assisted living.

Security Threats

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. They are more likely to share valuable information such as a social security number or credit card and bank account details. Thieves will stoop surprisingly low. They will even go through a senior’s trash to get financial data 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, most have no one to come to their aid or notify family.

There is another heartbreaking fact about accidents in the home. They often rob seniors of the opportunity to make their own decisions about their future. This is the case because adult children or relatives may need to obtain care while the injured party is still incapacitated. And in a crisis, even the most conscientious person is forced to make quick decisions. These decisions will be based on immediate availability rather than preference, careful research, and planning.

The Formula for Successful Aging Among Seniors

More seniors are seeing the many benefits of making a move to a senior living community, like The Manhattan, coming soon to St. Petersburg, Florida. They can enjoy the companionship of friends and neighbors, and a life enrichment calendar designed to keep them active and engaged. With healthcare services onsite, it makes it possible for them to preserve their independence and maintain their health. It also means the end of struggling as a caregiver to a spouse. Plus, the maintenance-free lifestyle means no more worrying about home maintenance. To find out more about The Manhattan, schedule a personal appointment.