According to the Institute on Aging, around 11.3 senior citizens live alone. While continuing to live in their own homes is what many seniors want, living alone can leave them without help when dangerous situations arise.
If your aging relative lives on their own, here are 4 dangers to beware of.
An electrical outage may not seem like much more than a nuisance, but during the winter months, it could result in hypothermia. The bodies of older adults lose heat faster than those of younger people. Because of this, just a few hours without heat can cause their body temperatures to drop to dangerously low levels.
Many things can spark a house fire, such as an accident in the kitchen, items too close to a heat source, or faulty electrical wiring. A house fire isn’t necessarily more likely in the home of an older adult, but it could be if they have cognitive difficulties. Someone with memory problems may forget to turn off the stove or blow out a candle. Some older adults may also make poor judgements that lead to fires, like setting a space heater next to curtains. Or, they may be unable to see that an electrical cord is damaged.
Identity Theft and Fraud
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says that senior citizens are a favorite target of thieves seeking to commit identity theft or fraud. Some of their methods are quite clever, so it can be hard to tell when it’s happening. Living alone, an older adult doesn’t have anyone to consult with. They may provide sensitive information over the phone, click on a dangerous link in an email, or purchase fake goods or services from a door-to-door salesperson.
Living alone puts older adults at risk for social isolation. Being socially isolated means that they have little contact with other people. Research shows that people who are socially isolated are more likely to be in poor health and die sooner than those with strong social connections. Sometimes people who live alone spend entire days or longer without seeing or speaking to another person.
With elderly care, your aging relative can have the best of both worlds. They get to remain in their home but have the added security and comfort of having someone check on the frequently. An elderly care provider can check in on seniors during cold weather to make sure the house is warm enough. An elderly care provider can also keep an eye out for things that could cause house fires, such as using a space heater in an unsafe manner. And, an elderly care provider who visits often is an automatic source of social interaction.