Do These Five Health and Safety Tips
August 5, 2021
For many older adults, living alone is important for their independence, whether they choose to live solo or adjust to it after the loss of a spouse or roommate. While many seniors choose to move to a community-based option like 55+ apartments or a senior living community where they’re surrounded by peers and neighbors, others prefer to live on their own and engage in social activities in other ways.
Older adults can live safely and independently in a variety of settings, whether their own home or a senior apartment.
No matter the living environment, safety needs to be top of mind for any older adult, and this becomes particularly crucial when living alone. Oftentimes, family members and loved ones of the older adult are the ones who prioritize safety concerns the most, as it’s part of being a caring, supportive advocate. For many, the thought of their beloved senior living alone can spark fears about the “what ifs,” and even then, all too often, important areas are overlooked.
However, by observing some important yet simple safety considerations...
“It's entirely possible for 'solo seniors' to operate independently, safely, and happily so they flourish in their own home. ”
If you plan to live alone as a senior, do these five things:
- Be a Chatty Cathy
With video conferencing technology prevalent to help people keep in touch, especially if you don’t have neighbors closeby, reach out to your circle of friends and family on a regular basis. Studies have proven that social isolation can be detrimental to a senior’s health, so don’t let living alone negatively impact you.
Regular social interaction will curb loneliness and keep a cadence of socialization and wellness checks that irregular meetups would not. FaceTime, Zoom, or a good old fashioned phone call—even for just 15 minutes—can quell any worries and beat the blues.
Even if you are staying healthy and active, these check-ins will give you a chance to recount your day’s activities and add some organization to your day. If you don’t have any close friends or family, there are plenty of options for non-medical home care, where caregivers can check in or stop by for companionship and some good chats.
- Accident-Proof Your Home
Besides loneliness, an older adult’s biggest enemy can be the upturned edge of a rug or a too-steep staircase. As much as we don’t want to admit that coordination, eyesight, and muscle tone declines as we age, older bodies simply cannot move and react as quickly as they always have, so setting up your home with safety in mind is a priority when no one is there to catch you.
Move upstairs bedrooms to the first floor to eliminate repeated trips on the stairs. Relocate pots and pans to a more reachable cabinet. Remove throw rugs and other obstructions on floors. Suggestions like these can literally save lives. Investing in a LifeAlert or other emergency contact system is wise and can put your mind at ease in case a fall or other accident does occur.
It's important to ensure your home is set up safely to minimize hazardous situations like falls.
- An Apple a Day - For You and Your Doctor
Eating healthy foods, exercising, and booking regular checkups with health providers are imperative. Signs of malnutrition or physical decline aren’t always obvious, and especially if you live alone, you need to take care of your body to set yourself up for long-term success.
Another lurking danger for those living alone is improper medication administration, so regular doctor visits will help you keep tabs on your meds. A study done by the American Geriatic Society showed that patient error, including not following a doctor’s instructions or inadequately dosing themselves when administering their prescription meds, led to the most adverse side effects and ongoing health issues.
Visits with a trusted physician will hold a mirror to your daily eating habits, provide feedback about your physical activity levels, and offer checks and balances regarding your prescription medications to ensure you live the longest, healthiest life possible and maintain the ability to care for yourself.
- Crack Open the Ledger
Hiring a financial planner or bringing on a trusted friend or family member to manage finances and accounts is a safeguard against debt or unexpected financial emergencies.
If you own your own home, repair and maintenance costs can easily crop up, and insurance debacles, day-to-day budgeting, and cost of living increases on a fixed income can be overwhelming. Without a live-in companion to bounce things off of, knowing your money is managed and that you are financially and physically stable is a freeing feeling.
Many older adults unfortunately fall victim to fraud or monetary exploitation from online or phone scams as well, so having a professional to run questions and bills past on a monthly basis fosters peace of mind.
- Leave the House!
It can be tempting to become introverted or it may feel all-too-cozy being able to enjoy the peace and quiet of complete solitude. However, getting outside for a dose of sunshine or making a trip to a local community center, shopping mall, or hobby store is another way to recharge your social battery and get a change of scenery. Going to places you enjoy or that have opportunities for fun and enrichment are perfect avenues to meet new friends and discover fresh interests.
Getting out of the house even for a short trip can do wonders for your mental health!
While “aging in place” has its merits for the independent spirit, make sure you have the know-how to implement proper precautions for living alone. With this knowledge, you’re well on your way to creating an environment where your golden years remain enriching, safe, and fun!
Can you think of something to add to our list? Have a question about living succesfully as an independent senior? Leave us a comment below!