The Top 5 Challenges That Face Seniors That Live Alone

According to statistics, approximately 46 million seniors live in communities across the nation. Out of this amount, an average of 30% live alone.

While it is not at all uncommon for adults to live independently, the aging process often results in the inability to do and handle the tasks that young and middle-aged adults are able to complete with ease.Seniors That Live Alone

Furthermore, the aging process often causes a strain on the body and the mind, resulting in special needs and assistance with activities of daily living.

Most adults – regardless of age – elect to remain in their homes because it is their comfort zone and has a high level of familiarity.

However, there are many challenges that they may face as a result of this decision. In this guide, you will be introduced to the top 5 issues.

Challenge #1: The Effects of Natural Loss of Muscle Mass and Function Due to Aging

The natural aging process results in the natural loss of muscle and muscle-based functioning. Medically, this condition is termed “sarcopenia”. Each of us experience muscle growth and strength until we are in our thirties. Beyond this age, the mass of the muscles starts to dwindle and the functionality of those muscles are negatively impacted.

Individuals that are not very active – perhaps, due to a medical condition, illness, or injury – are said to lose up to 5% of their muscle mass every ten years. Those adults that remain physically active throughout their life still experience a certain percentage of muscle mass loss as they age.

Seniors that are suffering from a loss of muscle mass and the overall functionality of their muscles will reach a point where their strength, balance, and mobility are detrimentally impacted. Symptoms of this condition include general weakness, an overall loss of stamina, weight gain due to the inability of the muscles to burn fat as they once did, and lower levels of physical fitness.

Seniors that live alone during this process are likely to find that they slow down quite a bit. They may sleep more or tire faster. They may not be as strong as they once were. They may find it difficult to keep up on household tasks, and they may fall more frequently, which places them at high risk for fractures and infections. The effects of muscle mass loss and the function of the muscles will impact every area of a senior’s life.

Challenge #2: The Effects of Bone Mass Loss Due to Aging

As individuals age, the loss of bone mass or bone density occurs. This is due to the fact that the bones lose essential minerals – such as calcium – more quickly. Additionally, the gel-like cushions between the vertebrae of the spine lose fluids, resulting in a shorter spine.

The spinal column may start to curve and experience an unnatural compression. The fluids within the joints start to decrease as a result of aging. Minerals may then start to become deposited near those joints and calcification may develop.

As a result of all of these situations, the bones become more brittle. The curvature of the spine may result in balance issues. This can result in slower movements, slower speed, balance problems, and gait issues.

Living alone while experiencing the loss of bone mass can result in trips, falls, and other types of injuries and detrimentally impact a senior’s ability to do household and self-care tasks on their own.

 Challenge #3: Lack of Nutrition

Many seniors are able to prepare food for themselves while living independently; however, they are likely to opt for food products that are convenient and do not take a lot of effort to prepare – such as processed, microwavable meals.

As individuals age, they become less motivated to invest a lot of time and effort into meal preparation. This is especially true if they are only cooking for themselves. Additionally, if a senior’s balance, movement, and mobility is impaired in any way, they may be physically unable to cooking meals that hold high nutritional value. As a result, nutritional deficiencies may occur.

Challenge #4: Cognitive Decline

As many grow older, they start to experience cognitive issues. This is an inevitable fact of life; however, the rapidity of onset of cognitive decline and the extent it occurs varies from one individual to another. The symptoms associated with cognitive decline include – but, are not limited to – the following:

  • Problem solving at a slower rate
  • Inductive reasoning slowed
  • Diminished capacity in terms of spatial orientation
  • A decline when it comes to perceptual speed
  • Decreases in abilities that include numbers
  • A loss in verbal-based memory
  • Possible changes in the ability to communicate
  • Decline in concept of time, day, and dates
  • Increased forgetfulness

Cognitive decline may make it difficult for a senior to remember when to take medications, when to eat, impact their ability to drive, negatively impact their ability to make it to appointments, and may result in self-endangerment. Examples of self-endangerment include forgetting that one is making a meal, becoming lost, and/or overmedicating.

Challenge #5: Emotional Issues

Seniors that live alone may face many emotional issues. For example, being alone may make them feel lonely. They may feel isolated, which can result in depression. They may suffer from anxiety due to limitations in movements and mobility. They may experience feelings of exasperation due to being overwhelmed by cleaning their home, trying to keep on their hygiene, and/or maintaining their home.

The emotional issues of feelings of depression, anxiety, isolation, and stress may result in the weakening of the immune system, the development of physiological conditions, and a general lack of motivation.

Helping a Senior Who Lives Alone

While it is true that you may be able to assist a person of age who lives alone, chances are, your time is limited. You cannot be there day and night. Many complications may arise.

Examples include the individual not eating properly, not taking their medications according to the advice issued by their doctor, not properly caring for their hygiene, and engaging in activities that may put them at risk.

While a senior may wish to maintain their independence, oftentimes, admittance into an assisted living care facility or a skilled nursing home may be the best option to ensure their health, safety, and general well-being.

To learn about free senior placement services in New Jersey, contact us by clicking the following link today:

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