There are certain things to contend with as we get older. Declining health; problems with mobility, the need to take even more medications, failing eyesight, any number of health issues which we automatically associate with old age.
There’s much more than simply health issues to consider, important though these are, not least among them is how we want to be cared for in our senior years. The assumption used to be that a residential care home was the only option but the gold standard now is having a care in your own home provided by someone who moves in specifically to take care of you.
Of course, that brings up the issue of financial security and how we pay for our care but money worries as a whole are something that concerns everyone in their later years. According to figures by the Office for National Statistics, the number of older people is increasing with at the last count 18% aged over 65. People are living longer now which has implications for the pension system and the health service as many are living with long-term health conditions that need to be managed.
Common Health Issues
The conditions most commonly seen by doctors include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes often linked to obesity and poor diet, heart disease, and cancer. The different forms of dementia also seem to be increasing in our Ageing population. The World Health Organisation’s latest figures show that an estimated 47 million people worldwide are living with some form of dementia. This can often be the greatest challenge for those caring for people with this condition. This is why a live-in care provider with specialist knowledge and understanding of dementia can be a lifeline for older people and their families.
Self-neglect is a common problem that can be helped with the right support network in place. Good nutrition and exercise are essential to maintain health and wellbeing and to help protect against the worst of any illnesses as well as reducing the incidence of depression which can make any physical illness feel worse.
Social Issues Which Affect Older People
Having a good network of friends and family around along with timely retirement and financial planning can all help to facilitate a seamless transition into the later years. Unfortunately, either through leaving retirement planning too late or having no friends or family nearby, it is too easy to slip into depression through loneliness and low self-esteem. According to Age UK, there are more than 2 million over 65s living alone many of whom can go for weeks without speaking to another person.
Loneliness brings certain issues that can be hard to deal with including a lower income and difficulty in paying bills. A reluctance to exercise or look after themselves can result in worsening health for some. According to a study by the Campaign to End Loneliness, a person living alone with reduced or non-existent social connections can suffer the same risk to health as someone who smokes 15 cigarettes a day. Links have been proven between loneliness and heart problems as well as dementia. All this adds up to a shocking statistical increase in the risk of early death.
It is always possible to avoid these issues and especially if you have live-in care as the person who cares for you will likely be able to put in place a plan whereby you can still get out and about even if your mobility is not good. Having another person live with you can help with all your daily needs but more importantly can help with all your diet, nutrition, and health requirements. They can even help you to use digital technology to keep in touch with people and connect with the wider world. Volunteer work, taking up new hobbies, church or social club attendance can help to forge new connections and new friendships. For those unable to get out through illness or reduced mobility telephone befriending schemes are a lifeline.
Grief from losing a partner or spouse, or from never seeing family members can take a large toll on someone’s health, as can losing the sense of self-worth that came with going out to work every day. Add this to a lack of, or decrease in, regular social activities such as clubs or even shopping trips and people can become seriously depressed.
Difficulties in Adjusting to Retirement
Many people look forward to retirement and the opportunities to explore new horizons or kick back and relax but there are significant numbers who dread it and find it hard adjusting to a new routine. The lack of self-identity and suddenly finding there is not much to do can crush the spirit.
Forward planning is the way, prepare for your retirement in advance by working out how much money you need to live on and pursue any interests. Make an effort to put in place a new structure which could involve things like:
- Learning a new skill such as languages
- Taking up a new sport or hobby
- Joining social clubs including those tailored to men or women
- Join the Open University to broaden your education
- Consider voluntary work
The effort involved will be worth it for the increased quality of life.
Relocation or Downsizing
Many older people decide to move house, either to be nearer to family, to move to a more desirable location or to have a smaller property which is easier to look after. While moving can be stressful, moving to a different area and having to find new health services and make new friends, can be positive especially if you have help from home care services or from a sheltered accommodation complex. It is also important to ensure you have full control over where you move to or if you move at all. Don’t be pressured into doing something you don’t want to do; enlisting help from a good friend, supportive family member, or even your solicitor can help you in your decision.