Across the globe, nearly 40 percent of older adults (aged 60 and older) live with extended family who are there to assist them when they need it. But in the United States, older people are far less likely to live this way. In fact, only about 6 percent do, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
This leaves a large proportion of older adults either living on their own — often dubbed “solo seniors” or “solo elders” — or with a spouse or partner. Either way, the daily attention and care one gets from multiple family members in other countries (allowing them to age in place) is often absent for older individuals in the U.S.
Sometimes the reason is because the aging individuals don’t have any adult children to begin with. Other times, it might be that their children don’t live nearby and are not available (or sometimes, willing) to help.
Maxed Out Children
Still, one reason often is because their children are a part of the “sandwich generation” (millions of Americans who are working and taking care of their children under 18 years old and their own aging parents). They are stretched thin with their own families, which minimizes time to properly care for their elderly loved ones.
And then there is the group of aging parents who are still financially and emotionally supporting their adult children who may or may not have a substance abuse or mental health problems.
Do you recognize families or clients like these?
If so, they may be at risk of losing their physical, emotional and social wellbeing along with their financial stability because they don’t have children to help them pay attention to the details of their life as they start to grow older. Aging in place (staying safely in their homes long term), which most Americans want to do, isn’t a reality for them. They may end up being forced to leave their homes because they can’t manage their personal finances or because living in their home alone is deemed too unsafe.
Signs to Look For
Sometimes it’s not so obvious that an older friend, family member or client needs help at home. But understand there are three main clues that can indicate when an older adult needs help: trouble with their personal finances, problems with home maintenance/organization and personal (hygiene and/or emotional) issues.
When it comes to financial clues, they could include the older individual incorrectly preparing bills, income tax returns/papers or balancing their checkbook.
Organizational issues could include losing important things like bills, keys, their checkbook or phone. Also, on the list includes living in a messier or dirtier home than in the past or having a home in general disrepair (broken lightbulbs, door handles, missing roof shingles, etc.).
Some personal issues that could indicate a problem include significant weight loss or poor personal hygiene, like having dirty hair or fingernails and/or clothes with an odor. They might have even had a recent car accident. Personal issues could also include emotional problems like the effects of social isolation or stress like anxiety and depression, so they may also have trouble with relationships.
Help Is Here
If you notice something wrong, that’s where we can come in to help and fill the gaps. Life Managers & Associates can support individuals as a caring, surrogate family member to help them age in place safely. We can provide administrative and organizational help as well as call in contractors (and supervise their activity) wherever and whenever needed to give individuals and their families peace of mind.
Life Managers & Associates manages the details of life with the same care as a loving family member to enable clients to live independently. We help them feel safe and supported — saving money and alleviating stress for all.