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In the US, about 46 million seniors live in senior community homes, but 29% of them prefer to live alone. Living in their own homes gives them a sense of familiarity and comfort that is lacking in nursing homes. But having your elderly loved one living alone may not be safe for them, which results in many family members taking on the role of a carer for older people.
Unfortunately, being a family caregiver is no mean feat. Family caregivers spend more than 24 hours every week taking care of their loved ones, which can be exhausting. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by your caregiving duties, you don’t have to suffer alone. Many family caregivers seek online caregiver help where they get to share with other carers and also enjoy expert advice on their caregiving duties.
If you’re starting as a family carer, here are five challenges that your loved one may need help with.
Living alone for the elderly can result in emotional challenges. For instance, your elderly parent may have fewer opportunities to engage with others. This may lead to loneliness and chronic illnesses caused by isolation, such as depression.
Further, your parent may grieve due to the loss of a spouse. Grief can last for many years and can lead to depression or anxiety. Limited movement and mobility can also lead to stress and anxiety. Exasperation is yet another emotional challenge that seniors who live alone face. This may be caused by their inability to take care of themselves or perform routine tasks that they could comfortably perform on their own in the past.
Falls and physical safety difficulties
Falls are the number one cause of accidental injuries and deaths among seniors in America.
Because of their age, bones of older people become brittle, and their eyesight also fails. Besides, when older people live alone, there may not have someone to remove hazards that can cause a fall.
Seniors often fall while attending to routine tasks such as answering a call, opening the door, bathing, and walking down the stairs. If your elderly loved one falls, they may be unable to stand up and seek help.
In the worst-case scenario, it may take hours or even days for your loved one to get help after a fall. Such a fall may also result in a traumatic injury or death.
Higher risk of medication overdose or underdose
Old age comes with cognitive challenges. If your elderly parent has dementia, they may forget that they had already taken their medication. This may result in them taking extra doses which can lead to medication overdose.
Seniors living alone may also forget to take their medication. This may be because of mild dementia or feelings of fatigue. The result will be medication underdose, which can make their already deteriorating health worse.
An older adult may not have the interest to cook a meal for themselves. Some find tasks such as shopping for groceries and preparing cooking ingredients too tedious.
When seniors are unmotivated to cook, they end up making poor food choices such as eating junk food or starving. If you notice your loved one is losing too much weight or becoming obese, it may be a sign that they need help with their nutrition.
Senior people who live alone may struggle to pay their bills. Unlike young people, seniors may have fewer job opportunities, and their age may not allow them to work.
Retired seniors also live on a fixed income which can result in financial difficulties as they may need to meet their medical costs among other expenses. Those who receive social benefits to supplement their income may still live in poverty due to the high cost of living.
Further, some seniors may fail to keep up with their bills due to forgetfulness and other mental issues. When you visit your elderly family member, check if they have mails of overdue payments or if they are receiving frequent calls from bill companies.
What you can do
Seniors who live alone prefer to do so because they want to enjoy the familiarity and memories that come from living in their own home. They may not like the idea of living in a senior’s home. Living with a family or a family member may be the ideal solution for such seniors. This may mean you’ll need to take on the role of a carer for your loved one.
Although being a caregiver for a senior is a satisfying experience, it can also take a toll on you physically and emotionally. If you are a family caregiver having a hard time taking care of your aged loved one, you can get online caregiver help to assist you in taking better care of your loved one.
Image credit: Freepik
Peter Wallace has been an advocate for mental health awareness for years. He holds a master’s degree in counselling from the University of Edinburgh.
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