Nearly ninety percent of the senior citizens across the United States prefer to age in place and grow old at home. Professionals believe that’s the place where people can afford to live over other costly places like nursing homes. But even staying home raises concerns, like the ones that block healthy aging. The most significant are lack of transportation, affordable housing, and isolation.
When adults have little access to shopping and social activity, isolation becomes a high risk factor that plays havoc on their health. Here’s what few seniors from my Facebook group says about aging at home with little support and connection — the comments illustrate the challenges.
“Budget, transportation, and health are the main causes of my isolation. I had to give up driving because of severe glaucoma. Also, having a rare autoimmune disease makes me exhausted most of the time.”
“Loneliness and isolation are a real problem. Our culture is different than most Asian and Latin cultures where no older person has to worry about being alone.”
What’s troubling, when studying the U.S. Census, is the high numbers of older residents living alone. Across America, close to 30 percent of the 65 and over, live at home without support, totaling over 11 million, and of these, 71% are female.
That’s a lot of older adults at risk for isolation, a factor of chronic illness. Research examining loneliness says the effects negatively relates to physical activity, mental, and motor function.
Strong social connections are central to physical and mental well-being. But it’s a complex issue. When vulnerable older adults have setbacks, they become disconnected and isolated.
Contact the local Area Agency on Aging using keyword terms like “area agency on aging your city.” They offer services and resources of the Area Agency on Aging, Elder Abuse Prevention, Information and Assistance, Legal Services, and Long-term Care Ombudsman. If you want social connection, call your city Parks and Recreation department.
ADA (American Disabilities Act) Paratransit provides transportation for those who cannot use the fixed-route public transit system. Each state has it. If you qualify, they will give door to door service in a small bus.
Law schools offer free legal assistance to low-income seniors. Or contact you local Area on Aging Department, they can refer you to an elder law attorney.
BenefitsCheckUp.org: Quickly find benefit programs that could help you pay for medications, health care, food, and more. All from a reliable and trusted source.
Seniorcare.com/directory – has created over 8000 local senior guides that offer healthcare quality ratings, senior housing options and other resources for aging Americans.
Carol Marak is an aging advocate, syndicated columnist and editor at Seniorcare.com. She earned the Fundamentals of Gerontology Certificate from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.