As a person ages, the decision will need to be made whether or not they will remain at home or move into some sort of senior residence or assisted living facility. When someone is widowed or has simply lived alone their whole life, the decision may be more complicated. However, more and more elderly adults are making the decision to remain at home. This decision provides a person with the freedom to do what they want when they want to do it. They retain a sense of independence that can be very healthy for them. However, there are some tips that can help make this living situation more successful.
1. Stick to a Routine
Most adults thrive on a routine each day. This eliminates wondering what you need to do and stressing about what needs to get done. Having a plan in place can provide you with the opportunity to set goals for each day. As a senior, keeping this schedule simple and flexible is ideal. Changes can be made as necessary. Most importantly, keep this routine written down so it can be referenced throughout the day.
2. Connect with Someone Regularly
It’s important to keep in touch with people on a regular basis. This can include children, grandchildren, extended family members, neighbors and friends. Making the attempt to speak with someone daily can combat some of the loneliness that comes with living alone. This can also provide the opportunity to make plans for holiday gatherings or occasional outings. Family members should also make a point of reaching out to their elderly loved ones on a regular basis to check in on them and offer assistance.
3. Developing Technological Skills
There have been some pretty dramatic developments in smart technology in recent years. While many seniors resist learning about the use of these devices, they can make a big difference in being able to remain at home. Social media is a great way to keep in touch with family members, especially younger grandchildren. Facetime is an excellent opportunity to connect with people you haven’t visited with in a while. You may have to reach out to some of your more technologically-savvy loved ones to get you set up. There are also plenty of online resources to help get you started.
4. Developing a Hobby
Maybe there’s something you’ve always loved to do, or maybe you would like to try out a new activity that you never had time for before. A hobby provides a sense of purpose and enjoyment, especially for those who are living alone. It often involves a small goal, such as completing a puzzle or painting a picture. Look into other hobbies such as crocheting, knitting, gardening, woodworking or genealogy. You may even be able to connect with other people in your community who enjoy the same hobbies as you.
5. Volunteer Your Time
Helping other people is a great way to achieve a sense of fulfillment. It can also help reduce any feelings of loneliness that may creep up. Being able to drive a motor vehicle opens up your volunteer opportunities. You can spend some time at a local hospital or nursing home, play with the animals at a nearby animal shelter or deliver meals to those in need. If you’re not able to drive, there are other options like stuffing envelopes for a variety of non-profit organizations.
6. Take Pride in Cooking
As a person ages, it’s really important that they’re taking the time to prepare and eat healthy and nutritious meals. A lot of seniors let their diet suffer, especially when it’s just them at home. Learning to cook new things and trying them out can make it more enjoyable to get in three meals per day. If you have a neighbor close by that you’re friendly with, see if they want to come over once per week to share a meal with you.
It’s also really important to avoid dehydration. seniors tend to be at a greater risk for dehydration than other age groups. Make sure you always have water nearby. You can even keep track of your hydration with a smart app or a special bottle that measures how much you’ve consumed.
7. Companion Services are Available
Local community resources provide opportunities for companion services and in-home care. Things that are provided include socialization, meal preparation, basic household assistance, etc. If your family members don’t live close by and you don’t have ongoing help, this is a great option for staying connected and sociable.
8. Planning for an Emergency
If you experience a medical emergency and live alone, you’re responsible for your own care. Planning ahead can help you advocate for yourself so your wishes will be carried out for you. You should keep a list of information handy for anyone that comes to the house to help you. This includes a list of your current medications, your primary physician’s contact information, medical conditions you currently deal with and any emergency contacts you have.
There are emergency response systems that a senior can sign up for. If you were to fall and couldn’t move to a phone to call for help, your emergency response system could be alerted to call for help. Smart technology like Amazon’s Alexa can also be used for this purpose.
Learn more about how to prevent falls
9. Senior Safety at Home
A home can quickly become a safety risk when you’re elderly and living alone. Every second of each day, an elderly adult over the age of 65 suffers a fall in the U.S. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among this age group. There are ways to reduce this risk. Go through your home and look for and safety concerns. This can include a rug that’s easy to trip over, furniture that’s in the way of safely navigating a room or clutter that turns a space into an obstacle course.
Also, keep your doors locked, especially when you’re going to be going to bed at night. Make it part of your nightly routine to lock your car doors, check your windows and lock your exterior doors.
10. Stay Current on Your Medical Care
As we age, routine medical care becomes an important priority. From regular physicals to follow up appointments for medication management, always stay up to date on your medical care. A lot of medical professionals are now using online portals to stay in touch with their patients and provide convenient advice. If you’re technologically savvy, it’s beneficial to sign up for these services. With a few clicks of a mouse, you can schedule appointments, request a prescription refill, ask your doctor a question and obtain useful information on ways to stay healthy.
11. Don’t Make Yourself Susceptible to Scams
There are a lot of scammers that target the elderly that are living alone. Be knowledgeable and aware of any phone calls, door visits and mail that you receive. If you’re at all curious if something is legitimate, follow your gut. Reach out to a family member, friend, neighbor or even law enforcement to validate legitimacy.
12. Stay Active
Remaining active in your senior years can make a profound impact on your mobility and health. Make it a part of your day to complete some sort of physical activity. This could be a walk around your neighborhood, going for a swim at a community pool or signing up for a senior aerobics class.
There are a number of resources available to elderly people who are living alone. National organizations include the AARP. They provide blogs, educational information, live events and videos to seniors that are in need of support and assistance. You can also contact your local government agencies for information on different programs they offer, including free rides to appointments, classes and activities at a local senior center and assistance with medical benefits.