Seniors On Their Own

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Older Americans are living on their own more than ever before in our country’s history. 

In fact, a 2012 report by the Council on Contemporary Families for Older Americans called the trend “a revolution in how and where the elderly live.”  This change has been remarkable. 

One hundred years ago, 70 percent of American widows and widowers moved in with their families. Today, the same proportions of our seniors live by themselves. A full third of all older Americans live alone and that number spikes to 40 percent for those 85 and older. Experts say this trend will only increase as the Baby Boom generation continues to age.  

Although there are challenges to living alone in one’s golden years, there are many positive things about it. 

As the Council’s report shows — and those of us in the aging-in-place industry know intuitively — the vast majority of those 65 and older live alone because they want to.  Additionally, older people who live alone are, on the whole, a very active and social bunch. They are actually more likely than their married counterparts to spend time with friends and neighbors. 

Certainly, there are some downsides.  The aging process brings along with it a litany of chronic conditions, physical limitations and potential dangers — from the effects of diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis to deteriorating eyesight and hearing and memory problems.  People who live alone are also less likely to carry out routine tasks such as preparing nutritious meals or doing chores.

Still, the negative sides of living alone can be mitigated. Even though there are disadvantages, many find that their independence is more important to them than the detriments. 
It simply boils down to this: solitary seniors will need customized retirement and lifestyle planning and expanded access to home healthcare services and technologies. Their children, extended family or caregivers, who may or may not live close by, will have access to new products and technologies — such as those we’re developing at Care Technology Systems – that are tailored to make their lives safer, healthier and more manageable.
Which makes the aging-in-place industry an exciting place to be.  There will be a lot of ways all of us who are focused on helping seniors realize and enjoy their independence will be able to make an impact in 2013.  Which is just one of the reasons I love what we do… and look forward to the new year!

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