Jun 15, 2017 by Kristina Butler
As the Baby Boomer generation grows older, the demographics of the American senior continues to change. Not only are there more seniors over the age of 65 than ever before in history, but these seniors have different needs than the generations that went before them. With advances in medicine and health care, seniors are living longer; yet, age-related degeneration, chronic illness, and injury make it necessary for many of these seniors to receive help and support on a daily basis.
Unlike previous generations, many of today's seniors do not have family members to provide this care. In fact, recent census information shows that a quarter of today's seniors do not have any children and one-third of seniors either never had or no longer have a spouse. Over 80 percent of women over the age of 85 are unmarried and many are also childless. The modern-day term given to these seniors who do not have spouses or children is elder orphans.
The problems elder orphans face are complicated. In addition to a lack of immediate family, these seniors also find that social connections are also lost as friends and former colleagues move or pass away. As a result, too many seniors find themselves alone both physically and socially. This lack of social connections is one of the primary risks of senior depression. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, "The more friends, the more things you can do to keep your body and mind active – that's the best protection you have against mental illness."
Beyond the potential for social isolation and loneliness, many seniors require daily assistance in order to remain safely in their own homes. Without this support, they will need to move into a nursing home or skilled care facility. From help with housekeeping and laundry to meal preparation, medication management, and transportation, a childless senior may find themselves in dire circumstances. Things become even more complicated when dementia, Alzheimer's, or other cognitive impairment is present.
The good news is that there are options for childless seniors, such as an in-home caregiver. A caregiver can help with daily living tasks, personal care, transportation, and companionship. With Comfort Keepers, a caregiver not only addresses the senior's physical tasks, but they ensure there is meaningful social, emotional, and cognitive interaction as well. This care is available from as little as an hour a week up to full-time, 24-hour care 365 days a year.
Granted, not every senior requires a long-term caregiver. But what happens when a senior is discharged from the hospital and there is nobody at home to help take care of them? Many medical procedures have complicated follow-up routines and several medications in addition to the physical limitations that often accompany the procedure. A Comfort Keepers caregiver can help with short-term care. In fact, Comfort Keepers specializes in hospital to home transitions.
In short, many seniors are going it alone and the number of seniors who are is only going to increase over the next few decades. With Comfort Keepers, a home caregiver can ensure these seniors do not lose their independence or quality of life.