The Harsh Realities of Growing Old Alone & How to Overcome Them
The Harsh Realities of Growing Old Alone & How to Overcome Them
Are you afraid that you might not have anyone to help care for you as you get older?
Life has a way of throwing us surprises and the fear of who will care for us when we get older is becoming more common. From bad family relationships to simply outliving your spouse, there are many reasons why you might not have a strong support system in place.
The first step to fearless aging is to be honest with yourself about your needs. When you have a clear picture of what you want, it’s easier to build a plan that supports you.
Keep reading to uncover some common things to anticipate as you age and build a plan for overcoming them.
How to Overcome the Harsh Realities of Growing Old Alone
Before we know it, several years have gone by and we aren’t the young adults we once were. Our metabolisms are slowing down, our priorities have shifted, and we don’t have the energy we used to. It takes more effort to get things done and we are starting to think about what will happen if we can’t take care of ourselves anymore.
Some of the most common concerns that we hear are outliving your money, losing your home, being unable to work, or becoming unable to drive.
Let’s dive into your planning to-do list.
Get Your Affairs in Order
Planning for your future includes possible futures that you may not be ready to think about, but you need to. Death and disability isn’t fun, but it’s even worse if you haven’t planned ahead.
Planning for these situations early on can give you peace of mind. You can make sure the right people are there to help you when you need it and that they know your wishes.
Start with a living will. You might be familiar with a Last Will and Testament, but not a living will. A living will is a statement of your wishes should you end up in the hospital on life support. You can learn more about last wills and living wills at thebalance.com.
In your living will, you will designate a few people that will help make decisions for your treatment and care.
Designate a healthcare proxy in case something happens to you and you can’t make medical decisions beyond just life support.
In the event that you can’t make decisions, designate a power of attorney.
Stay Active and Be Healthy
If you take care of yourself now, you’ll have fewer issues when you’re older and less chance of decreased mobility as you age. Focus on your health overall and follow your doctor’s recommendations.
Try to reduce or eliminate saturated fats, excess salt, excess sugar, and junk foods from your diet.
Cut back on your vices — alcohol, smoking, and drinking too many sodas.
Swap out milk or creamer for soy milk and cut out the sugar or replace it with a healthier alternative like honey or pure maple syrup.
Get exercise. Most of us spend our days in front of the TV, computer, or our smart devices. The less active we are, the harder it gets to be active later. Commit to an exercise routine that’s doable for you and stick to it.
Spend Time in Nature
It’s been proven that fresh air and time outdoors away from the hustle and bustle of city life is good for us. For those suffering from isolation, depression, and anxiety, spending time outdoors can make a huge improvement in your overall mood and it has a positive effect on your brain.
Our bodies are more relaxed in a natural environment — and relaxation leads to less stress.
Studies have proven that time spent in nature can help:
Increase memory attention
Reduce blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes
Reduce blood pressure
Boost immune function in patients with weakened immune systems
Reduce cortisol levels (a stress hormone)
If you are having a hard time finding a reason to go outdoors, try out some of these activities:
Grab a pole and go fishing.
Take a nature hike at your local parks.
Plant flowers or a vegetable garden.
Plant an indoor herb garden or decorative plants to bring a little bit of nature indoors.
Take the dog for a walk or to the dog park.
Go for a ride on a bike.
Sign up for an outdoor fitness class like yoga.
Take a boat ride.
Volunteer for community service.
Spend the weekend camping.
Take a kayak out on the river.
Enjoy arts and crafts outside.
Work on a computer? Take your laptop outside while you work.
Play tennis, volleyball, or soccer.
Plan a trip to your local zoo.
Spend a day at the beach.
Go apple or berry picking at a local orchard.
Play a few rounds of mini-golf.
Go ice skating or rollerblading.
Attend an outdoor movie at a drive-in or movie night in the park.
Go for a swim.
Break out the camera and go photograph nature.
Find Your Tribe and Create a Social Circle
You might have a hard time making friends and prefer to spend the majority of your time alone. It’s easy to fall into this trap and just give up on socializing because past experiences have been painful or it’s just too hard to connect to people.
Isolation is a leading factor in depression and depression can cause your overall health to decline swiftly. Your physical health will suffer if you lack the motivation to get up and go meet new people and have new experiences.
Living in isolation is bad for your health and leaves you fewer options for support as you get older and start needing help. Creating a social circle can give you access to rides for doctor visits and errands, someone to help you prepare meals and keep up with chores temporarily if you get sick, and friends to lean on for emotional support.
Find People With Shared Interests
If you have a hard time meeting new people and making friends, try some of the following suggestions to meet like-minded individuals with common interests.
If you are religious, go to church.
Pick up a hobby and find a group for it.
Yarn Crafts (Crocheting and Knitting)
Join a local support group for the elderly.
Where you live will play a huge factor as you age. If your house isn’t set up to accommodate you as you age, consider making adjustments or looking for a new place to live. Little things like stairs might not seem like an issue now, but if mobility becomes a problem, they could be hard to deal with later.
The right place for you to grow old is about more than just household amenities. The city and community you live in are just as important as your house.
Make sure you are close to clinics, hospitals, your primary care doctors, grocery stores, social groups, and support groups. If you become unable to drive, being closer to the places you need to frequent often will give you more access to transportation options.
Consult a Professional Care Manager
Thinking about everything that might happen to us as we age can be depressing. It’s a massive amount of information to take in. You have a lot of decisions to make and you’re worried you might not plan for everything.
Don’t wait too long to get help. Asking for advice now leads to fewer mistakes that could be detrimental later. Request a consultation with one of our Professional Care Managers below to get started planning your future.
Request a Consultation
Life over 50 is complicated. From illnesses to general aging-related difficulties, there's a lot to learn and a lot to cope with. We understand and we're here to help answer questions and provide guidance on your options.