Common Problems Faced by the Elderly in the US
Many people look forward to retirement, viewing it as a time to finally relax, slow down, and peacefully enjoy life.
While it’s true that the golden years can be some of the best years of life, there are still some significant challenges.
Older adults face particular problems due to their age and life circumstances. Here are some of the most common problems faced by seniors:
Physical and Mental Health
Many older adults maintain good health and are fully able to function both physically and mentally well into their later years. However, the biological effects of aging do lead to more physical and mental health problems among the senior population than in younger age groups.
As we age, muscles and bones begin to weaken, we lose eyesight and hearing, and mobility often becomes limited.
Seniors also suffer from dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, which affects about 10 percent of people over age 65, increasing to 32 percent of people 85 and older.
Due to physical or mental health conditions, about two-thirds of all people 65 or older need assistance with at least one “daily living” activity such as bathing or preparing a meal.
Declining health can be difficult for many older adults to accept, as they wonder how long they will be able to do the things they enjoy and fear losing their independence.
Health Care Costs/Nursing Home Care
If the senior population has more health problems, it makes sense that they also require more health care.
Older adults visit the doctor and stay in the hospital more often than other age groups. Medicare helps cover some health care costs for seniors, however most are left to pay for about half of their medical bills on their own, which can cost thousands of dollars each year.
Additionally, Medicare does not cover the cost of long term care such as home care or nursing home care, or for mental health services.
Residential nursing homes are still a primary option for seniors who need around-the-clock care.
Nursing homes are not only extremely costly, they also often have a reputation for providing substandard care.
Many nursing homes struggle with under-staffing issues, which can lead to neglect or abuse of the residents.
Because residents are often in poor physical or mental condition, they can do little to help themselves if they are being mistreated or not properly cared for.
If a nursing home is the best option for your loved one, it’s important to research a place with a good reputation and stay involved in your loved one’s care.
Once older adults become poor they are more likely than younger people to remain poor due to having less job opportunities that would allow them to move out of poverty.
Upon retirement, most seniors lived on a fixed income, which, along with the constantly increasing cost of living can pose many financial restrictions. They may no longer be able to afford the same lifestyle they had been accustomed to.
Additionally, many worry about sudden bills such as an unexpected medical expense that can cause them to fall behind.
Many older adults receive social security benefits that help supplement their income. However, two-thirds of those who survive solely on social security payments live below the official poverty level.
Bereavement, Social Isolation, and Loneliness
Seniors tend to have fewer opportunities for social engagement than younger age groups.
They retire from jobs, children move away, friends and spouses pass away, and eventually they may become housebound if they lose the ability to drive or become ill.
Bereavement is always a difficult experience, but because so many seniors lose a spouse, it is a particular problem in their lives.
The grief that follows the loss of a spouse can last many years and can involve anxiety, depression, loneliness and other issues. Of all these problems, loneliness is perhaps the most common and the most difficult to overcome.
According to the most recent U.S. Census 28% of people aged 65 and older lived alone, with numbers estimated to be much higher now.
Studies show seniors who live alone often experience social isolation and chronic feelings of loneliness, which cause depression, illness, and even death.
It’s hard to tell exactly how many seniors are affected by elder abuse due to the fact that few report it. It’s estimated, however, that at least 10 percent of older Americans have suffered from at least one form of abuse, which amounts to hundreds of thousands of cases per year.
Sadly, some seniors are victims of abuse committed by their own relatives. Such abuse involves physical or sexual violence, psychological or emotional abuse, neglect, and/or financial exploitation.
Elder abuse poses a serious health problem for those affected, and it may even increase their chances of dying.
Staying closely involved in your loved one’s life can help prevent them from being abused or taken advantage of.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.
Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California including: Campbell, CA, Roseville, CA, San Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.