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  • Writer's pictureKaren McPhail, RN, MSN

Living Alone

Seniors are living longer and most desire to stay in their homes long term. As a result we are seeing more and more seniors living alone, which can result in many difficulties, especially for those with cognitive impairments. The Institute on Aging reports that nearly 11.3 million of seniors are living alone, most being women. Lack of socialization and loneliness are risk factors for increased cognitive difficulties and earlier mortality. Some seniors are now seeking out roommates to share the costs and provide socialization within the home. I always recommend that seniors living alone be linked to a variety of consistent activities, programs, and social groups if possible. In addition, having routine vendors such as house cleaners, landscapers, and others checking in often can help the process, provide some balance and stimulation. Keeping balance and socialization for those who are more introverted or have difficulties in getting out for health reasons can present a challenge. A careful and individualized plan with their input is essential to keep proper stimulation and balance.

Living alone is a great concern and should be reevaluated under the following conditions:

1. Lack of socialization and resistance to socialization due to cognitive impairments.

2. Cognitive impairments that effect the ability to perform routine aspects of daily living, result in unsafe or challenging behaviors, impact nutrition and hydration, or effect judgement.

3. Seniors with poor vision impacting their daily routine and safety.

4. Those with medication administration needs and difficulty in managing effectively.

5. A home environment that does not support safety or is configured in a manner that can no longer meet the needs of the individual.

6. Showing signs of withdrawal, isolation and depression.

If you begin to notice these issues emerging it is time to make a change before a life threatening situation or life limiting injury occurs. If you need assistance in forming an action plan, contact a care manager to assist you. Some interventions can be done immediately and positively impact the situation. Often times a caregiver or companion can also be placed in the home within 24 hours and begin to positively effect the process for all involved. Each situation is different and requires specific interventions. Care managers can expedite this process with trusted agencies and save you significant time and effort.

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