What is normal when aging alone ? A question most people in the Elder Orphans Facebook Group ask, at least the folks over the age of 55.
You may be someone who prefers not to think about it and pretend that issues of living alone don't exist. The fact that you're slowing down or showing signs of declining health issues, can't multi-task as well, have less energy, forgetful at times, or not sleeping as well, all point to it. It's a matter of well being and strong health care.
Aging alone comes with its own set of concerns and challenges that exacerbate isolation, a weakened support system, a disconnected home life and living situation. All because it feels like no one is available.
What Older Adults Can Do
What can elder orphans do about it?
Most people getting older choose to ignore it. But if you're into a proactive and prevention lifestyle, and want to get ahead of the down-side of aging, I can help by giving you reliable and useful information that flips uncertainty and denial, to clarity and action.
The kind of clarity that moves from isolation to a support system, having no family members and aging alone to having more friends and a sense of community, to avoid loneliness and choose a living situation that embraces a sense of family caregiving, and learn the navigation techniques for support services in the community. More on that later.
Older Adults Research
According to a Pew Research study, they found varying assumptions, depending on the age group. The generation gaps in how one perceives older people and when it begins ranges from 60 years to 74 years of age.
When asked, "What chronological number does old age begin," survey respondents ages 18 to 29 said 60. . Middle-aged respondents put the threshold at 70, and those 65 and above say a person of the age of baby boomers does not become old until 74.
Other potential markers such as forgetfulness or Alzheimer's Disease, retirement, becoming sexually inactive, experiencing bladder control problems, getting gray hair, having grandchildren are the subjects of perceptions, along with isolation and living alone. Nearly two-thirds of adults ages 18 to 29 believe that when a senior frequently forgets a familiar name that marks the person old.
Additional markers such as failing health, an inability to live independently, an inability to drive, difficulty with stairs and risk for falling, across all age groups, indicate to a certain degree as old age in life. (Pew Research, Growing Old in America)
The Longest Study on Aging
The research scientists looks for answers to the question, "What is normal aging?" It's the longest running study on human aging, the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging.
It appears to be a simple query, but the answers are complex. The research goal is to identify the true effects of aging and to separate factors such as disease, socioeconomic disadvantage, or lack of educational opportunity from the underlying mechanisms common to human aging.
Predictors of Aging
If you ever asked a physician, "How do I know if I'm aging well?" She'll likely look for answers (signs that illustrate risk) via:
The Findings in the Baltimore Longevity Study Several indicators about how well a person ages were discovered via the longest longevity research project in America. The findings are useful for those who want to know, "how well am I aging, and how can I know?"
Getting tired while walking can indicate one's future mobility - scientists found that how fatigued a person gets while walking is a better predictor of future problems with mobility compared to reports of overall low energy or tiredness. The ability of mobility performance predicts future function. An example, two people who walk quickly, the one who does not feel tired has better future mobility.
Cognitive changes in normal aging are different for genders - in the absence of cognitive impairment or dementia and Alzheimer's disease, cognition changes with aging but differs by sex. Men have better visual-spatial ability at baseline, women do better on most other measures of cognition. Over time, men decline more rapidly in overall mental status, perceptual motor speed and visual-spatial ability. Women do not decline faster than men in any aspect tested. Women may have greater resilience to age-related cognitive decline compared to men.
Decreasing sense of smell is an early sign of changes in brain health. Since motor functions are strongly affected by brain health, the study found the smell ability was associated with all measures of mobility and hand function, even after accounting for other factors affected by brain health such as age and cognitive function.Your perfectly optimized content goes here!
Assessing the Aging alone Experience
In my aging alone assessment designed for people living alone, I ask elder orphans to come up with a plan that targets good health, a social support network, a manageable home budget and maintenance, creating an environment with a sense of family members nearby (people who can check in on us,) in a community that meets our needs on our terms for care. A place where we feel connected and not one that reminds us that we live alone.
Having a clear picture about where one falls in the aging alone plan will set people up for better aging and a better life. Once you know the results and where you fall short in the issues, single people have a strong potential for vibrant lives.
How we choose to live is the result of our individual preferences and the resources available. It’s remarkable that most seniors choose to age in their homes. They feel that home is where they find the most comfort and connection to memories.
Start Today by Creating a Plan for the Future
Join the Solo and Smart Master Group Coaching (headed up by me, Carol Marak) if you intend to live at home, prefer support from peers and people like you, learn ways to connect with neighbors and to find activities that you enjoy, discover strategies for well being and senior services navigation in the larger community. As a result members will create a plan for aging alone.
For social connections in your neighborhood, you could start block parties, potluck dinners, or social events like game night each month. In my high rise, that’s what we have set up. Once a month, residents meet in the club room to play games, or go to happy hour at a nearby restaurant, or for dinner. It’s why I’ve chosen to live in a high rise situated in an urban area, because I have easy access to social activities, entertainment, and neighbors. I’m rarely lonely. Plus, it’s a built in support system!
The longer you put it off, the more difficulty you’ll have living alone. Learn more about the Solo Aging Master Group Coaching with Carol Marak.