A Comprehensive Review of the Possible Dangers of Seniors Living Alone
Finding the right living situation during the golden years can be a struggle.
Moving out of a home you love can be incredibly difficult, and you may be wondering what problems the elderly face living alone? Is it that dangerous?
This guide will help you navigate and understand the dangers of living alone as a senior and give you a broader view of what solutions are available.
Read on to discover the physical, mental, and daily dangers of seniors living alone.
Table of Contents
Is it Safe for Elderly People to Live Alone?
For some seniors, living alone can be a dangerous choice. From risks of falling, accidentally overdosing, or suffering from depression, there are some major consequences that many seniors face if they live alone. However, some seniors are just fine living alone. Every case is different.
While there are many cases in which a senior can both comfortably and safely remain at home, some elderly people find that living alone is simply not a sustainable option.
4 Physical Dangers of Seniors Living Alone
There are many problems the elderly face living alone.
#1: Fall and Accident Risk
As unpleasant as it is, the fact that our bodies, as we age, begin to function at lower levels than they did before.
Aging adults often find that.
- They’ve lost some flexibility
- Their bones are becoming more brittle
- Their muscles are weakening
- Their balance is off
- Their reaction times are slowing
All of these factors come together to create high risks of falling and other dangerous accidents. Nearly a third of all seniors living in the USA fall every year. Around half of the falls requiring hospitalization take place at home.
Falling poses a massive risk to seniors who live alone.
Consider MaryAnne, an elderly woman who lives alone.
As she goes to collect the mail one morning, she finds that her granddaughter sent her a hand-drawn picture of the two of them. MaryAnne smiles to herself — she knows just the thing to do with the kindergarten masterpiece; hang it on the wall.
MaryAnne finds an empty picture frame along with a hammer and a nail. As she goes to nail the nail into the wall, her arm fails her, and the hammer clamors to the ground, striking her foot.
MaryAnne loses her balance and falls, bumping into the sofa on her way down. Thankfully, she is able to reach her phone and call for help.
This time, MaryAnne is going to be okay.
But the accident forces her to ask the question:
“Should I be living alone?”
Had someone been present to help her, MaryAnne may never have fallen.
One of the less frequently mentioned dangers of seniors living alone is the threat of malnutrition.
When living alone, seniors sometimes find that making dinner is too much. Many seniors take various medications and some of those come with dietary restrictions.
For some, simply microwaving a freezer meal — or skipping dinner altogether — is an easier, more manageable option.
This can lead to severe malnutrition in turn leading to a host of other health struggles.
At Senior Services of America, we know that vitality and nutrition go hand in hand. That is why restaurant-style dining is part of our daily routine. At each meal, your waitstaff makes sure you are receiving delicious, nutritious food that you actually want to eat.
#3: Accidental Prescription Overdose
The older we get, the more help our bodies need to remain healthy. This help often comes in the form of vitamins and medications.
Prescription medication use has risen significantly in the past years. Roughly 90% of seniors in America take at least one prescription medication while around 40% take 5 or more different prescriptions.
Taking a dose an hour or two late due to forgetting can lead to devastating consequences.
The tiny print on medication bottles can make it easy to get them mixed up or to misread the dose.
Many different medications look similar, leading to accidentally taking too many of one and not enough of another.
For seniors with memory loss, medications pose a specific threat. Taking one’s medications and forgetting can lead to accidentally double — or even triple — dosing.
Unfortunately, the threat of mismanaging prescription medication is much higher than many people might know.
At Senior Services of America communities, we offer medication monitoring to help ensure that our residents are taking what they need — no more, no less.
#4: Overlooked Symptoms or Illnesses
When you live with declining health it becomes easy to ignore it. Or, you might never notice it at all.
Seniors living alone may not realize that their health is slowly declining. Many are not aware of symptoms that they should be looking for to help catch any health conditions early on.
Barely noticed brain fog can be an indication of something far more serious. Slow loss of movement might not be noticed until it is too late.
By choosing not to live alone, seniors can dramatically reduce the chances of developing a serious health concern that they didn’t see early signs of.
3 Mental Dangers of Seniors Living Alone
It seems like everyone talks about fall risks and other physical dangers of seniors living alone. But living alone can be just as much of a threat to mental health as to physical.
Many seniors living alone find that engaging in their community is difficult. And as a result, many develop serious mental health disorders.
Depression can have multiple causes, from hormonal imbalances in the brain, to outside stimulation, to extreme loneliness.
Sadly, many seniors who live alone find that they are battling depression, even if they never dealt with it before.
Someone living with depression may find that they:
- Are unable to enjoy activities they used to love
- Are incredibly tired and fatigued
- Lose energy
- Feel deeply sad, hopeless, numb, or empty
- Struggle to sleep, or sleep too much
- Are having thoughts of harming themselves
Depression is a serious health concern and it is important to do everything possible to avoid it. By choosing to live with others, seniors can help stave off conditions like depression.
There are activities seniors can do that can help alleviate symptoms of depression. However, if your loved one is experiencing the symptoms listed above, they may need medical treatment to get better. Reach out to your loved one’s doctor to find out the best course of action.
Another common mental health concern for seniors living alone is anxiety.
Anxiety can be as serious as a diagnosable mental disorder or as mild as occasional nervousness and persistent feelings of fear.
A full anxiety disorder can lead to symptoms such as:
- Anxiety attacks
- Feelings of panic
Seniors who live alone may find themselves battling anxiety due to overwhelm, fear of injury, or any number of other factors.
At Senior Services of America communities, our team members work hard to provide our residents with excellent care that alleviates as many daily concerns as possible.
We put your safety first and strive to offer all of our residents a comforting and safe place to call home.
#3: Isolation and Loneliness
When it comes to the dangers of seniors living alone, sometimes the biggest danger is simply the “alone” part.
Human beings naturally crave connection and community.
Especially for seniors, it is important to avoid isolation.
Isolation and loneliness are a huge threat to the health of a senior who lives alone. When humans become isolated, it can negatively affect far more than just their mood. In fact, living in isolation is as bad for you as obesity or a chronic smoking habit.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health and thoughts of harming yourself, you are not alone. The thoughts you are having are common and there is hope. Help is just a call away with the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255. Don’t struggle alone, help is available.
2 Daily Life Dangers of Seniors Living Alone
In addition to problems that can appear and accumulate over time, there are some mundane, daily dangers seniors might face when living alone.
#1: Lack of Help With Everyday Activities
Keeping a home clean and functional is a lot of work.
Taking care of daily tasks can be overwhelming, especially for seniors who may already be struggling.
Staying on top of things like …
- Going grocery shopping
- Getting the mail
… can become nearly impossible.
Seniors often find that they need some assistance taking care of these tasks and they cannot get that assistance on their own.
#2: Financial Difficulties
On top of other daily responsibilities and stress points, many seniors find that it becomes difficult to stay on top of finances.
Owning a home can be expensive. You have to factor in costs such as:
- Mortgage payment
- Lawn care
In addition to paying the bills, each one has a date it must be paid by. For some seniors, especially those battling memory-related issues, remembering to pay multiple bills on various days can be a huge struggle.
How to Manage the Problems Elderly Face Living Alone
We live in an age where every problem seems to have multiple solutions and the problems elderly face living alone are no exception.
There are various services and solutions that can help remedy some of the issues seniors may face:
- Medical alert devices can be used in emergencies;
- Social activities can be intentionally scheduled;
- Meals can be delivered;
- Family members can move in with the senior.
But, for many, these solutions are only temporary and, at one point or another, no longer offer the level of assistance needed.
When this happens, many seniors and families find themselves scrambling to try and find a solution. In years past, it seemed traditional nursing homes were the only option.
These days, there are many, many different specialty care settings ready to offer seniors the care they need.
One such setting is assisted living.
Assisted living provides residents with a perfectly balanced blend of assistance and care. Many facilities host various activities and run different programs to ensure that residents are able to live a happy and fulfilling life.
Although independent living aides are available, it is important to know when to make the move to assisted living when the time is right.
Senior Services of America: Find Comfortable Living Arrangements When the Dangers of Living Alone Become Too Much
Senior Services of America communities offer older adults:
- Enriching experiences
- Restaurant-style dining
- Community events
We take pride in offering the perfect blend of safety and independence. Our residents receive assistance with daily needs and don’t have to worry about most daily chores such as tending a lawn or cleaning.
Our patient and caring staff are available to help our residents stay happy, comfortable, and, above all, safe. Find your nearest community to speak to an advisor today.