What Are the Disadvantages of Living at Home in Old Age?

As many people age, they have an understandably strong desire to continue to live at home when at all possible. Technically, remaining in one’s own home as he or she ages is known as aging in place or aging in home. While there are many benefits to living in one’s own home in old age, there are drawbacks and disadvantages to it as well. The disadvantages of living at home in old age include:

  • Responding to health emergencies
  • Keeping up with home maintenance
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Cognitive issues and mental decline
  • Emotional challenges
  • Physical decline
  • Poor nutrition

Responding to Health Emergencies

It’s become almost a lampoon of living alone as an older person. Picture the scene of an older individual on the floor imploring “I’ve fallen and can’t get up.” After being seen and heard so often the past 30 years, this statement can evoke a chuckle in some instances. 

The fact is that it does represent the very real danger of a person having a health emergency at home when they live alone. The limitations of an older person living at home alone to respond to a health emergency is a very real problem. This represents one of the most significant disadvantages of an older person living at home. It also represents a prime reason why many older individuals (and their families) choose to have that senior person transition to living in an assisted living community.

Keeping Up With Home Maintenance

Another disadvantage of living at home alone as a person grows older is the reality that it can become more difficult to keep up with necessary home maintenance. As an individual ages, it can become more difficult to undertake different home maintenance tasks. That leaves a homeowner with the task of having to hire people to do this work for them. Hiring people to do basic home maintenance can prove to be an expensive proposition. 

Isolation and Loneliness

A very real disadvantage of living alone as a person grows older is isolation and loneliness. This occurs for a number of reasons, including the fact that members of an older person’s peer group become less available to socialize. In addition, friends pass on as they grow older. Moreover, an older person may find that he or she has less energy to devote to getting out and about to socialize. The net effect of all of this can be that an elderly individual ends up isolated and experiencing loneliness.

Cognitive Issues and Mental Decline

Dementia and other cognitive conditions are more common among older people who reside alone. In other words, people who are living alone as they age are at a greater risk of developing memory issues, dementia, and other cognitive issues. This is an outgrowth of a number of other negatives aspects associated with living along in a person’s Golden Years that can include:

  • Lack of regular socialization
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Lack of regular exercise
  • Lack of mental or intellectual stimulation

Emotional Challenges

Living alone as an older person presents a variety of emotional (and mental health) challenges. These emotional issues come in a number of different forms that include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness

Sadly, in some instances, these emotional issues can progress to a point that an older person might entertain thoughts of suicide or even suicidal ideations. 

Physical Decline 

Another negative aspect of an older person living alone is found in unnecessary physical decline. Yes, as an individual grows older, that person naturally will experience a decline in his or her physical status. However, research has shown that the decline can be unnecessarily accelerated when an older woman or man lives alone. 

Poor Nutrition

Yet another disadvantage of aging at home alone is found in the reality that a person’s nutrition tends to decline. Simply put, when an older person lives alone, that individual is apt to spend less time and energy preparing healthy meals. In addition, because they experience other negative issues as well – loneliness, for example – they may “self-medicate” by eating sweets and other far less than healthy food items. (Yes, eating proverbial junk food is a recognized form of self-medication in some instances.)

As the negative aspects associated with an older person living at home begin to mount, the time may have arrived for that individual (and his or her family members) to consider the prospect of transitioning to an assisted living community. Assisted living can prove to be the best choice for an older person facing mounting challenges of life alone. 

Exploring assisted living options before these negative aspects of aging alone is the wise course. Proactively seeking an assisted living option for an older person can prove highly helpful in preventing these negative possibilities from becoming more of an issue for an individual in his or her Golden Years.