Critter Corner: Helpful Advice for Seniors Living Alone

Dear Angel,

My father lives in our family home in Southwest Virginia, all by himself. My mother is deceased and I am an only child. He doesn’t have any family around and not too many friends. I visit him whenever I can, but it’s not often enough due to my work schedule. At this time, he refuses to move up here and insists that he can take care of himself. Do you have advice that can help him live more safely, while giving me peace of mind?

Thanks!
Pete Samynd

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Dear Pete,

Having a senior loved one who is living alone can definitely cause stress for long-distance caregivers such as yourself, who cannot take care of your loved one on a daily basis. If your father insists on maintaining his current living situation, a few precautions could go a long way in providing you with much needed peace of mind and hopefully ensuring his safety. Here are some suggestions:

Healthy Lifestyle: A good way to make sure your father is safe is to ensure he is living a healthy lifestyle. This is the best way to prevent any health risks that come with old age. If he is on a healthy diet, exercises regularly (even a walk around the neighborhood will do), and is getting plenty of sleep, these are good signs.

Remove any Potential Fall Hazards: The next time you visit your father, be sure to attend to anything that could lead to an accident, such as loose handrails, throw rugs, and flooring transition strips. Make sure his toilet and shower have secure grab bars. Falling is one of the leading causes of injuries for senior citizens, which is why you need to make sure that the conditions aren’t hazardous for him.

Keep in Touch: Seniors who choose to live by themselves should have friends and family members check in on them regularly — ideally in person but at least by phone (or video chat for more tech-savvy seniors). Regular contact is essential to help ensure your father’s physical and psycho-social needs are being met, and to help him with feelings of isolation or loneliness, which can lead to depression. Encourage your father to make senior friends in the neighborhood, so that they can enjoy shared interests and each other’s company.

Take Up Hobbies: Convince your father to take up hobbies that are of interest to him, and volunteer in the community, as a way to get out of the house and socialize with others.

Provide Backup Goods: If your father lives in an area that is known to have power outages or severe weather hazards, make sure he has plenty of emergency supplies such flashlights, candles, and blankets. Things such canned food and bottled water stored away for use in these situations will help you worry less about how he will cope with events such as severe weather.

Professional in Home Care: If needed, and if he is willing, hire an in-home caregiver to assist with your father. Be sure to plan, in the event that he needs long-term care in the future.

Hope this is helpful for you and your father!

Angel

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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.

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