Staying Put, Solo Agers and More...
82% of Americans prefer to remain living in their own home
The American Advisors Group, a home equity agency, recently conducted the “Importance of Home Survey,” (September 29, 2021)polling 1,552 participants ages 60-75. While the conclusion is that most older adults want to age in place if they could, they recognize that this might not be possible. Among the findings:
82% of respondents said they would live in their homes for the rest of their lives if they could.
The desire to live in one's home ties closely to a feeling of safety. More than four in five respondents (83%) said they feel safer at home than in other living options.
40% of older adults answered that “independence” is the most important benefit to continuing to live in their current home. Their “happiness” was the second most popular answer, at 25%.
The COVID-19 pandemic strengthened how older adults feel about living at home. Half (50%) said the pandemic made their desire to live at home stronger.
SOLO AGERS are adults 60 and over who have little or no family support, the medical community often refers this population group as ELDER ORPHANS. An article in the Journal of Active Aging, 2021, volume 20, Issue 4 reports that in 2016 22% of Americans not only had no children but also no family to turn to in a crisis. With divorce growing in this demographic as individuals reevaluate life choices plus the many Boomers who never married and some who are widowed, the number of Solo Agers is likely going to skyrocket. Senior living providers are already paying attention to this change in planning for services, but what 's the Solo Ager planning? With America running out of family caregivers. Solo Agers are facing an unknown future.
What choices are there for the Solo Ager?
If you are a Solo Ager, what are you planning to do to postpone and/or reduce the need for a family caregiver, caregiver or assisted living care as you age, what plan do you have when you get sick or are injured? If you have not started planning yet, you may want to start sooner than later. Questions that arise are:
What do we need to do stay safe, stay healthy and independent for as long as possible? What is needed to slow down age-related declines in function and health?
To stay independent Solo Agers need to avoid getting sick, avoid getting injured, avoid loneliness and avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Sickness, disease, injury such as falls affect our ability to live independently and affect our quality of life. According to CDC, Falls are the #1 reason older adults 65 and older lose their independence, thus falls prevention should be a priority in the quest for remaining independent.
Safety is an important factor
Elder fraud and elder abuse increases as people become more vulnerable. Research your options to stay safe and avoid being taken advantage of by individuals or organizations who are looking for an easy target.
This includes eating healthful nutrient rich foods, participating in regular exercise and daily physical activity, and include meaningful social activities.
We can't improve what we don't measure
In working with older adults to improve and maintain functional fitness, strength, balance, mobility, and quality of life, we often start by taking baseline measurements and assessments to help determine the best course of action. Some new clients question the need for an initial baseline assessment and subsequent reassessments. Quite simply, we can't improve what we don't measure.
Starting an exercise training program without a clear goal is like shooting from the hip, you may reach your wellness goal or totally miss weaknesses and/or impairments in strength, balance etc., and thus lose valuable time when these issues could have been addressed sooner. Falls are the #1 reason that older adults 65 and older lose their independence. Starting an intervention before things become critical can make the difference between a long active and vibrant life and one of dependency.
Pandemic may have increased older adult fall risk
More than a third of older adults between ages 50 and 80 years reported their physical activity declined in the pandemic's first 10 months according to findings from the University of Michigan's National Poll on Healthy Aging.
In addition, more than a quarter of respondents said they're in worse physical condition ever than before the pandemic. Many of those surveyed also reported an increased fear of falling.
The U-M poll found 25% of older adults experienced a fall between March 2020 and January 2021 and forty percent of those that fell experienced more than one fall during this period.