Recently a widowed neighbor disclosed to me the difficulties of aging alone. She loves living here but her closest relatives are over 200 miles away. So, she is selling her home and moving closer to family.
This solution is not for everyone. But as we age we need to take certain things into consideration. And those with aging relatives can help. So, a list of modern-day survival skills for aging follows.
Emergency Alerts for Aging Alone
Since I seldom watch television, I don’t know if those “Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up” commercials still air. This problem is quite significant for the elderly. I believe that advertisement was for a Life Alert medical device to wear around the neck. Those are great. But other options exist.
My personal favorite is a phone watch. Usually I am a late adaptor to new products. However, I was the first in the family with a watch that has its’ own phone. There is no need for a connection to a nearby cell phone. Calls can be made if I am out on a ten-mile run and can’t make it back. Calls for help if I were to fall and break something are easy. And unlike a medical device on a necklace, a watch blends in.
The latest technology in these watches is the ability to scan for vital signs. One of my octogenarian relatives has this type. When my current watch gives out, I most likely will follow suit. And yes, there is a bit of give and take with regard to the Big Data collected on your health. As a society we do need to be conscious of privacy with respect to the massive storage capacity technology offers.
Low Tech Alternatives
If you or a loved one refuses to wear any type of device, there is an alternative for those aging alone. Albeit not quite as timely or efficient. The biggest risk of a fall that renders one unable to move is not getting help in a timely manner. Blood clots are frequent in hip injuries but also occur in minor sprains. Lying on the ground for hours (or days) waiting for someone to notice your absence is life threatening.
So, communication is the key. Daily morning and evening phone calls to check in become a necessity if newer technology is unwanted. With an extended family a rotation schedule can be implemented. Close neighbors can help as well. Make sure contact information of out-of-town relatives is shared with trusted friends and neighbors. Aging alone does not equal isolation.
Another low-tech alternative is the use of a cane or a walking stick. Both items can add stability to one’s gait. Walking sticks are not limited to mountain hikes. They can also make a walk around a park safer once a certain age is reached.
De-cluttering and Aging Alone
Often falls occur from stumbling over clutter. So, de-cluttering and aging alone go hand-in-hand. Since it is difficult to give up things, books like Lose the Clutter Lose the Weight, Cleaning Sucks, The Home Edit and The Prepared Home are great resources.
Not everyone can afford to hire outside help. If outdoor chores become too burdensome with age turn to church youth groups for help. There may also be youth service organizations at the local high school in need of a project.
Mindfulness is important working outdoors. Care must be taken not to trip over hoses or tools such as rakes. Aging alone requires a higher threshold of awareness.
Importance of Neighbors
The importance of being a good neighbor and cultivating relationships with neighbors is key when aging alone. Looking out for each other still occurs. Humans, by nature, are caring creatures. Relationships with neighbors of all ages help the young and old alike. On a national level there appears to be many divisions in this country. But on a local, neighborhood level, life is much more civil.
Maybe it is time to turn off the social media friendships and focus on the face-to-face relationships. If you have a neighbor or family member aging alone, keep in close contact. And if you are the one aging alone, use common sense, stay healthy, and age gracefully.