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Senior Living: The Growing Worries That Come With Age

by Mary Shannon Profiles in Catholicism

People experience stress and worry at every stage of life. However, as they get older, seniors face a whole new set of concerns related to their health and aging. Let’s take a look at these common stressors and some solutions that can be implemented to combat them.

Healthcare concerns

Healthcare is a major concern for people young and old in the United States. In fact, for five years straight, the majority of Americans surveyed by Gallup have named healthcare as the most worrisome issue they face. As we age, many of us worry about health and mobility concerns. Having access to reliable, affordable health care coverage is essential for seniors across the country.

Original Medicare is only one option. And though it may seem to be the most cost-effective choice at first glance, spending a little more on a Medicare Advantage plan could actually save money in the long term. Medicare Advantage plans offer expanded coverage that can include dental, hearing, and vision benefits, as well as prescription coverage.

Financial problems

When people enter retirement, they often become worried about finances because they are now living on a fixed income. Many times, they can't afford the same lifestyle to which they've been accustomed for the majority of their adult lives. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, without Social Security, 22.1 million more Americans would live below the poverty line. However, even including Social Security benefits, 9.2 percent of people aged 65 and over are still below the poverty threshold.

Many people in this age bracket are also food insecure and/or worried that one unexpected bill could put them into serious debt. Fortunately, a number of senior assistance programs are available to provide free meals, home care programs, employment assistance, and other services through state and local agencies.

End-of-life planning

It’s not easy to think about, but for your family’s sake, it’s wise to plan for your eventual passing. Of course you’ll want to have a plan for your estate and a will written, but one way you could help your family is by planning your funeral. Be sure to consider the type of service, whether you want a burial or cremation, and who you’d like to speak at your funeral. You should also think about signing up for burial insurance. This type of policy can pay for your funeral and also take care of any leftover medical expenses.

Independent living

Many seniors want to remain in familiar surroundings throughout their golden years and also retain their independence. Though some seniors end up transitioning to assisted living or a nursing home or move in with a family member, many are able to remain in their own homes because of senior-friendly renovations or the assistance of a caregiver. Some common renovations that help seniors stay in a home environment include things like grab bars in bathrooms, stairlifts, and ramp installation for at least one entryway.

For seniors who wish to maintain their independence but are unable to keep up with routine household maintenance and other tasks around the home, it’s a good idea to look into independent living facilities. The staff at these facilities will handle the housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, and other tasks for you while you can maintain an active lifestyle. Because amenities and costs vary, it’s important to research your options and schedule tours with facilities that you want to explore further.

Mental health issues

Mental health is a legitimate concern for many older people. According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in three seniors dies with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. And unfortunately, only 16 percent of seniors receive cognitive assessments during routine health check-ups. Therefore, it’s essential that older people have a family member or another associate willing to advocate for them during doctor’s visits to make sure they are evaluated and treated, not just physically but mentally as well.

Social isolation

Because of mobility issues, distance from family, death of a partner, and a host of other reasons, older people can become isolated. When seniors are socially isolated, they are more than just a little lonely. They are actually at higher risk for harmful health issues including dementia, depression, high blood pressure, and malnutrition.

Though retirement communities and assisted living centers can help combat isolation, not all seniors have the financial means or desire to move to such facilities. Therefore, it’s vital that we all make an effort to ensure that people in our lives do not become isolated. Visit often with older relatives, neighbors, and any other seniors you know.

Aging is inevitable, but it shouldn’t have to be full of stress and concern. Thankfully, there are opportunities out there to help the situation. With the right health care plan, Social Security and other assistance programs, and a reliable support system, seniors can live out their golden years with less worry and more happiness in their lives.

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