Guardian Carers Feature on Sky News

Old people living alone – How to help

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It's no surprise that studies indicate that over 90% of people over the age of 65 want to live at home for as long as they can. The familiarity, comfort and sense of community that any of us has in our own home is understandably of huge importance. But the harsh reality is that, as age and medical conditions take their toll, some seniors can find living alone at best challenging and at worst dangerous.

For family members it can be hard to know what to do for the best. On one hand, the wishes of your loved one need to be considered but on the other, their health and safety have to be of paramount importance. If you have an elderly family member who is living alone and have concerns about their wellbeing then here are some things to consider.

Old people living alone

Are they coping?

Many elderly people cope very well alone but if they are beginning to struggle then there are clear signs to look out for. Are they failing to carry out basic household chores or keep their own personal hygiene in order? Are they malnourished or unwell due to not being able to buy or prepare nutritious meals? Are they missing appointments or failing to keep on top of their household bills? If you notice any of these signs, then it might be worth approaching the issue of introducing extra help into the household or considering other living arrangements. But what options are available?

Assisted living communities

Assisted living communities usually comprise several senior people or those with medical conditions all living together in an area of dedicated housing where there is usually a warden or on-site care available as needed. This is still a method of independent living but it gives families the peace of mind that help is on hand if it is needed. Many seniors also enjoy the social aspect of this type of living and the community spirit that it offers. For old people living alone it can be a great way to live independently but it does involve relocation.

Old people living alone

Assisted home care

Assisted home care covers a broad spectrum and can be ideal for people who need a little extra help at home but still want to stay there. In higher demand cases, carers can visit multiple times a day or even live in. But in most cases, it makes sense to have someone come a few times a week to help with personal care, housework and other elements as needed.

Care homes and nursing homes

Care homes and nursing homes offer round the clock assistance and are usually live in facilities - although some do offer respite care on a day by day basis. Some homes offer higher levels of qualified medical care than others so it is important to do your research beforehand to ensure that the needs of your family member can be met if they suffer from medical conditions that require specialist assistance. It comes at the price of leaving their own home and at substantially higher financial cost than home care.

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