5 Risks Facing Seniors Living at Home

Posted by Enlivant support center on January 20, 2016

Seniors’ desire for familiar surroundings and to maintain their independence, coupled with a common fear of being “institutionalized” and its financial implications, have led to the majority of seniors wanting to live at home for as long as possible. 

The sad reality however is that many seniors living at home are not safe, independent or comfortable and would be better suited for a senior living community. 

Here are some of the major risks seniors may face while living at home:

Living at home can be very isolating for seniors, especially for those who are homebound and/or living in rural areas. A recent report from JAMA Internal Medicine found nearly two million Americans over age 65 are homebound, rarely or never leaving their homes. Another six million are categorized as semi-homebound meaning they can only leave their homes with difficulty or with assistance. Outings may be limited to medical appointments. Depression is common among homebound seniors, affecting a quarter to a third of the semi-homebound and almost 60 percent of the completely homebound. 

In senior living communities however, outings, transportation and single-floor designs promote access to the community and broader world. Senior living residents are also able to socialize daily with their peers and attend social events without ever leaving their residence.

Safety Hazards & Injuries
Poor eyesight, limited mobility, and minor safety hazards at home, like a loose rug or tangled electrical cord, can put seniors at risk for falls, broken hips and even death. If you notice your senior loved one’s home is cluttered and dirty, stairs are steep and home maintenance is falling behind, it may be time to explore senior living options. 

Assisted living facilities typically provide all housekeeping, laundry and home maintenance, so your loved one can thrive in a safe environment, and spend their time enjoying hobbies and activities. 

Poor Nutrition
Malnutrition is a serious health issue among seniors, facing 1 in 4 older adults. Poor nutrition and dehydration can result from many factors including decreased appetites, trouble chewing, and a lack of interest in cooking and eating for one. Seniors living at home should be able to shop for, prepare and eat three healthy meals per day. Having no food in the house or spoiled food in the refrigerator is a sure fire sign they are not getting adequate nutrition and need additional assistance. If you notice any sudden weight loss or evidence of malnutrition or dehydration, get help immediately. 

At assisted living facilities, residents don’t have to worry about grocery shopping or meal preparation. They can enjoy three square meals a day, with menus tailored to the changing health needs of older adults.

Missed Medication

The average senior takes about seven different medications per day, so it may not be surprising that 58 percent of seniors make some kind of error when taking medications. Seniors living at home must be able to remember proper dosage each day and keep up with refills. If a senior can’t remember if or how much medication they took, or forgets to take their medication altogether, they are putting their health at serious risk staying at home. 

Most assisted living facilities provide medication management as a service to their residents.

Seniors living at home tend to be easy targets for con artists and thieves, who pray on older adults’ vulnerabilities and trusting nature. Whether it is a fraudulent sweepstakes prize or an unbelievable investment return, the Consumer Law Center has found that fraudulent telemarketers direct anywhere from 56 percent to nearly 80 percent of their calls at older customers. Here are the top financial scams targeting seniors that you and your senior loved one should be aware of. 

Living at home is certainly possible for some seniors who are able to thrive on their own, but for many older adults it creates an unsafe and unhealthy living environment. Senior living offers the ability for seniors to maintain their independence and “age in place” both safely and comfortably.

Read these warning signs to help determine if home is still the best place for your aging loved one.