Showing posts with label help for seniors who live alone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label help for seniors who live alone. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Friends and Family Prolong Your Life

Are you looking for a fun, easy way to live longer?  According to research done at the University of California in San Francisco, and reported in the AARP Bulletin, spending more time with your friends and family can increase your life expectancy.  This is especially true since the Covid pandemic, when many people stopped socializing and some of them have never returned to the amount of socialization they did before.

The researchers followed 1,600 adults who had an average age of 71 at the beginning of the study.  They took into consideration their socioeconomic status and their overall health.  Those people who self-identified as being lonely consistently died at a higher frequency over the six years of the study.  During that period of time, 23 percent of the lonely people died; only 14 percent of those who were satisfied with their level of companionship died.

How Retirees can Increase their Socialization

Since loneliness can contribute to early death, it is important we take steps to make sure we do not become too isolated as we age ... which is easy to do when we no longer go to a job.  Below are a few suggestions for increasing the time we spend around other people, particularly after we retire.

1.  If you have relatives nearby, make sure you reach out to them and try to spend time together.  Your adult children and grandchildren can immeasurably enrich your life.  If you are not retired yet, but have older relatives or siblings who live in your area, plan activities which include them.

2.   If you live in a mixed age community and no longer spend much time with your neighbors, make an effort to get to know them.  An occasional block party or neighborhood ice cream social benefits people of all ages.

3.   Find out if your community has a senior center.  They often have exercise classes, parties, dances and, sometimes, low-cost lunches which seniors can enjoy in the company of other people.

4.   Call your local community college to see if they offer classes for senior citizens.  Many colleges offer emeritus classes which are either free or very low cost.  Going to classes which you enjoy is a fun way to meet other people with similar interests.  Suggest a few of you go out to lunch or for coffee either before or after your classes so you can get to know each other better. 

5.    Make an effort to join a club, organization or place of worship.  Participating in these organizations can help you stay connected with other people.  The more involved you are, the better off you will be.  It is not enough to attend an occasional club meeting or church service.  Volunteer.  Join a committee.  Go to social events.  These experiences will enrich your life.

6.  Regularly speak with your friends and neighbors.  You may even want to set up a specific time every day, or several times a week, when you call and chat with a friend.  If one of you doesn't answer and there is no explanation for the absence, agree that you will contact family members, a neighbor, or local police so someone will do a "welfare check" on you.  It will bring you and your friends peace-of-mind if you all know that you are looking out for each other.

7.   Do not rebel against the idea of moving to an independent or assisted living facility.  While some people still have a negative image of these living arrangements, sometimes comparing them to old-style nursing homes, the truth is that most people thrive in these facilities.  Today's senior housing facilities have a wide variety of fun amenities and provide an excellent opportunity to socialize and make friends.

Remember:  Being sociable not only makes you happier and improves your outlook, but can prolong your life.  The more involved you are with other people on a regular basis, the better off you will be.

If you want to learn more about common health issues as we age, financial planning, where to retire, changing family relationships, Social Security, Medicare and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tips for Boomers Who Live Alone

Sooner or later, the majority of people will spend some time living alone.  Even if you are currently married, it is likely that one of you will outlive the other.  "Gray" divorce, involving people over the age of 50, is also becoming more common.  Most of the time, single Baby Boomers are quite capable of handling this living arrangement and may even enjoy the freedom that they have.

However, it is likely that there will also be times when most single seniors will wish they had someone else around to lend them a helping hand, especially when they are sick, have surgery, or when they are dealing with other types of life emergencies. 

These are the times when you need to have a plan.  Below are some suggestions to make life easier for you when you go through these difficult times.

Preparing for Emergencies When You Live Alone

Everyone should know how to order their groceries online or by phone.  This will make life so much easier if you are sick or recovering from surgery.  Practice by ordering your groceries this way once in a while, for example when the weather is bad and you don't want to get out.  Then you will know exactly what to do when the time comes that you have to order your groceries.  You won't be trying to learn something new when you are already under stress.

Meals on Wheels - In addition to being able to order your groceries, you may also want to investigate the local Meals on Wheels service.  Many of these organizations will provide meals temporarily to people who are recovering from surgery or permanently for people who are experiencing other issues such as severe arthritis that could make it difficult for them to prepare their own meals.  In addition, it can be comforting to know that someone will check on you each day when they deliver the meals.  You will probably be asked to donate between $2 and $8 per day for the meals, but the service is well worth it.

Medical Alert Devices - Meals, of course, not the only problem you might have when you live alone.  As you age, one of the biggest risks you will face is from falling.  You could also suffer from other medical emergencies, such as experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke.  As a result, people who spend a lot of time alone may want to invest in a medical alert pendant.  There are a variety of companies that offer this service, such as the GreatCall Medical Alert Device.  Depending on the company you choose, the service that is connected to your medical alert device (for a small monthly fee) will be able to connect you with 911, a nurse, a neighbor or the relative of your choosing, so you can quickly get help when you need it. Make sure you compare several brands and choose the device that suits your lifestyle.  Some only work when you are in or near your home.  Others work off a GPS system, which means you can use them wherever you are ... on a trip, while taking a walk, or at the local mall. 

Medical Alert Engraved Bracelets - If you have a condition such as epilepsy or diabetes that could cause you to pass out or have a seizure, it would be wise to wear a bracelet that identifies your medical condition and any other relevant information that would be useful to emergency personnel, in the event you cannot speak.  You can order medical alert bracelets online, although you may want to talk to your doctor first about specifically what information you will want to include on your bracelet.

Transportation can be another issue when you live alone.  What happens if you lose your drivers license or if there is simply a short period of time when you cannot drive ... because of foot surgery, for example?  Many communities offer transportation services in the form of buses that will come directly to your home or low cost taxi vouchers.  Some communities even have volunteers who will drive seniors to medical appointments.   Contact your local senior center or city hall to find out what transportation resources are available in your area.

Online Banking - Learn how to pay your bills by using online banking and have your Social Security, pensions and other sources of income automatically deposited.  This will dramatically simplify bill paying for you.  I even know of people who have all their bills charged to their credit card and then they simply pay that one credit card bill each month.  I advise this only for people who do not overspend and end up with a credit card bill that is more than they can afford. Either way, learning how to use online banking will save you money on stamps and reduce the time you need to spend paying bills.  In fact, many of your bills can be set up to be automatically paid every month, with no additional effort from you.  That means you will not forget to pay a bill, especially if you are sick or hospitalized for a period of time.

Try to build up a circle of friends who you see periodically.  Not only is the socialization important for people who live alone, but it is reassuring to know that there are people who would miss you and come looking for you if you unexpectedly did not show up for a routine get-together.  You may want to take a class, form a walking group, join a book club, or get involved in similar activities.  Have coffee with a neighbor once a week.  Volunteer at the library or your local senior center.  These types of activities will also help you fight one of the biggest issues for people as they age ... loneliness.

Phone calls, emails and text messages are other ways that you can stay connected.  As you age, you may want to contact an adult child, a sibling, or a close friend several times a week, just to reassure them that you are OK.  In some communities, you can sign up to have an automated phone call made to your home every day at a certain time, when you are virtually always at home ... such as 7:00 in the morning or 10:00 in the evening.  If you do not answer, they will send someone out to check on you.

Household help - If possible, hire a person or two who can help you around your house ... with cleaning, yard work, pool maintenance or similar services.  This will give you at least one more person who will be checking on you periodically.  In addition, it will make it less likely that you will get injured doing something risky or stressful ... such as shoveling snow, washing windows on a ladder, cleaning your gutters, etc. 

Finally, put together a list of emergency numbers and keep it in a prominent place.  You may also want to keep a copy in your car and carry one in your purse or wallet.  Make sure it contains contact numbers for your doctors, relatives, neighbors and anyone else you might need to reach in an emergency.  When you are upset or confused, it could be difficult to remember even familiar phone numbers.  In addition, if you are unconscious, this list could make it easier for others to get in touch with your family or physicians.

In addition, add ICE as a connection on your cellphone.  That stands for: In Case of Emergency.  Then, enter the phone number of someone who should be contacted in an emergency.  Emergency personnel have been trained to check your phone for this entry, if you should be found unconscious or incapacitated in some way.  

Taking the right precautions will make it much easier for you to live comfortably alone and could postpone the time when you will have to move into assisted living ... which most of us want to postpone as long as possible.

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