Nearly 30 percent of the 40 million community-dwelling elderly live alone. About half of them are in the oldest-old bracket (85+) and they live on their own. The ones who live at home alone report feelings of loneliness and social isolation. And for those with heath issues or physical and sensory deficits, the deteriorating signs may be overlooked. They have trouble following the prescribed treatments or have physical limitations. And most do not prepare nutritious and balanced meals.
In spite of the issues, most of the elderly want to maintain independence, continue health living at home. They fear to be a burden on others. To help them remain independent, they need encouragement to be active and to maintain social connections.
So if you can’t think of one thing to give an older relative or neighbor, consider the problems that hinder their independence and perhaps offer one or two solutions. By giving it mindful and conscious thoughts, you’ll find many ideas that will make a relative’s life easier. Check out this resource for holiday giving.
List of problems
- Managing medications—complying with a doctor’s orders to follow the prescribed drug dosage can be an issue. Many seniors have trouble paying for their meds due to living on a limited budget. Give a gift card from the pharmacy and offer to call each day as a reminder when to take the pills. Or better yet, purchase an automatic pill dispenser.
- Social isolation—people who live alone, especially those who no longer drive are a risk of separation. The problem opens the door to loneliness and depression. Give the gift of transportation to social events held at senior centers or to activities sponsored by their church or synagogue. If you are not able to transport them, check into local resources that can and make arrangements for pick-up and delivery.
- Help around the house—most older adults have trouble cleaning the home, upkeep of the yard, and washing clothes. Offer to help by doing the chores for them. If you can’t find the time, give the gift of a caregiver or lawn service to help out several hours a week.
- Make the home safer—inefficient lighting and clutter are significant problems for older people. They can cause trips and falls. Offer to help the relative organize and declutter. Buy and install light bulbs that give better lighting effects.
- Poor nutrition—regularly eating meals alone is the hardest thing to do. That’s why so many elderly do not cook; eating alone is not satisfying. So they dismiss the activity altogether. Offer to cook and share a meal with them. Better yet, extend an invitation to have them over for dinner with the family.
- Forgetting to pay the bills—your relative may not remember to pay the monthly bills. Offer to help them by setting up an online pay system and oversee and manage bill paying for them.
- Doctor’s and medical appointments—most seniors, have a lot of health concerns and going to the doctor’s office is routine. Offer to take them Or better yet, check for local resources and schedule transportation.
By helping to solve one or two significant issues, you’ll bring relief to a relative’s life. You might even see more smiles from them.