The twilight years are not the same for all seniors. Some spend it playing golf, drinking tea in the afternoon, and playing with grandchildren. But for some, they live what’s left of their years in a screeching rocking chair, lying in bed, and living in isolation. Such is the case for 28% of seniors who are living alone at home, according to the Administration on Aging. While some can manage to live completely independent lives, some have to face the dangers of living alone caused by high crime rates, sickness, poverty, and loneliness.
More than five million seniors need long-term health care assistance. But it is truly unfortunate that some of them could not afford to live in a facility and are left with no choice but to fend for themselves. One of the most common medical conditions associated with old age are Alzheimer’s or dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, of the 60 to 70% of seniors with dementia, 25% live alone.
Not all elders or their families can afford home care services for seniors. But there are still ways to assist them to avert possible emergencies that could endanger their lives. This starts by knowing the things that can possibly happen to seniors who go about their lives alone.
Fatal Home Accidents
Falling from a flight of stairs, slipping in the bathroom, and burns from boiling water are just some of the most common accidents that happen to seniors at home. These are not just “ordinary” accidents because according to the Harvard Health Publications, people age 75 and older are almost four times more likely to die in a home accident than younger people.
The risk is obviously higher for seniors living alone. The first defense is for seniors to understand the physical changes that happen to the body as they get older. Aside from regular tests, improving strength and balance through exercise and other physical activities should help. All rooms in the house must be assessed—remove tripping hazards, remove rugs without non-skid backing, remove clutter and cords, install assistive devices in the bathroom such as hand grips, and make sure doorways and hallways are well-lit. Don’t let the elderly climb stairs by setting up a room on the ground floor.
Dealing with Emergencies
It is common for seniors to forget to unplug appliances, forget that they are baking something or boiling water. This is why one of the must-have home security devices for seniors is a smoke and fire detector, these are provided in condos like brixton, fairway etc. but incase you’re not living in a condo, these are something that you can incorporate at home. This is one way to be alerted and buy time to call authorities. There’s also environmental hazard monitoring to warn seniors of water pipe bursts or flooding. Emergencies like these happen and installing these alarm systems at home will help ensure the safety of elderly people.
Target of Criminals
Property crime such as burglary is the second most common type of crime against seniors. Elders, especially those living alone, are easy targets because of their declining cognitive and physical functions. Criminals regard them as helpless.
Seniors have special needs and a home security system that addresses all these is necessary in every senior’s home. Sensors installed around the house, motion detection sensors in entry and exit points, and burglar alarms are required to keep seniors safe. These security systems send immediate notification to command centers in case of a burglary. If seniors happen to be mobile phone- and tech-savvy, they can even control the alarm system remotely.
Inevitable Medical Situations
Seniors have different medical conditions that they have to face as they get older. These could be related to their heart, memory, bones or muscles. It is important that they have access to immediate medical care.
One of the best home security systems for seniors is a medical emergency alert. With the simple push of a button, they can be assured that help is on the way. There are elders alarm systems that can be worn as a necklace or pendant for easy access and added convenience.
Seniors are more prone to home accidents and other medical emergencies and such technology is necessary to keep them protected.
High Energy Costs
Don’t expect elderly people to know all of their grandchildren’s birthdays, much more expect them to unfailingly remember to always turn off the water heater, control the thermostat, and unplug unused appliances.
This is why one of the things happening to every senior homeowner is increased energy costs in the household. Home automation, which is an added feature in most modern home security systems, is a good way to help seniors manage energy consumption, while keeping the house safe and secure. Home systems are equipped with automatic features and absolutely have no “senior moments.”
Isolation and Loneliness
Living alone does not automatically mean social isolation, but it sure is a predisposing factor. As people get older, social contacts decrease, social engagements are not as frequent, and mobility becomes a challenge. Seniors living alone are naturally more prone to feelings of isolation and loneliness. These emotions can trigger long-term physical and mental health problems which, according to a 2012 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may increase risk of mortality.
Future Looks Bleak
Being pessimistic about what lies ahead is one of the dangers of living alone. The National Council on Aging said isolated seniors are more likely to predict their quality of life to get worse over the next five to 10 years than those who are with family and loved ones. This pessimistic outlook impedes improvement in the quality of life as people get older. Isolated senior homeowners assume they have nothing to look forward to, which only increases loneliness and risk of falling into depression.
Seniors have contributed a great deal to our communities and have spent all their years trying to make other people’s lives better. It is unfortunate that millions of them have to spend the rest of their years alone and, in the case of some seniors, in social isolation and in a dangerous state of loneliness. These safety and security measures can help ensure that they don’t feel neglected.