Whether your loved one lives close by or across the country, we want you to know what to look out for as signs they may need additional support. In the United States alone, there are more than 23 million seniors over the age of 75 living alone. This means there are 23 million families, just like you, at this pivotal moment wondering just how successfully their loved one truly is living alone. Merck Manuals says that over 60% of these seniors are struggling to live independently, and an equal number said they have felt lonely and isolated. Additionally, because many seniors have physical limitations and because eating is a social activity, some older adults living alone don’t prepare full, balanced meals, making undernutrition a concern.
Picture yourself returning from a visit with Mom. Maybe you find yourself wondering, is she really safe living alone? Will she be able to keep up with the house? Should we start talking about senior living? But where do I even start?
Think about how the visit went. Did they appear happy? Did they appear safe? How was the condition of the home? Are they keeping up with managing their affairs independently? You may believe some of the changes you’re noticing are a normal part of getting older, but it’s important to recognize the differences between normal and abnormal aging.
- Slower but eventual recall and cadence in conversation. Some forgetfulness like not being able to remember a distant relative’s name or the date of an appointment off the top of their head can be normal.
- Occasionally forgetting the day of the week but then remembering.
- Occasional errors balancing their checkbook or missing a bill but realizing the error.
- Gradual decline in dexterity, sensory, mobility, and agility.
- Natural shrinking of their social network.
- Relying on a coordinated service to manage the home like landscapers, cleaning services, etc.
- Scattered and repetitive thinking or struggling to follow a conversation.
- Inability to understand the concept of future events. Losing track of dates, the season, and orientation.
- Noticeable discomfort or limitations in managing their care needs that impact their quality of life.
- Disinterest in relationships or their favorite pastimes.
- Not being able to stand long enough to cook or vacuum.
- Inability to recognize the need for coordinated support due to physical or cognitive limitations.
We want you to know you aren’t alone. We are here to help you navigate this journey. Separating a big decision like this into several smaller decisions can make it more manageable. We’ve partnered with a research firm to help families determine the appropriate level of support for their loved ones. The answer to this may look different for everyone, but our hope is that this assessment and guidance will be helpful to families in finding the right fit for them.