We already know that loneliness is a major debilitating cause of health decline in seniors. Over the years I have blogged about the challenge of seniors living on their own, without a support network. During this pandemic, the isolation and separateness of everyone was very difficult on all us. However for seniors, I think it has been worst of all. We all need personal contact, connecting with someone, sharing a smile and maybe even being able to recall a memory together, however for those many seniors who find themselves on their own, this has not been possible for several months.
As I reflect on the clients with whom I have worked over many years, like anyone else, seniors live in a range of housing options. These include apartments/condos/ houses, group homes, board and lodging settings, retirement residences and long term care facilities. Often times, the range of housing options is dependent on both income/financial status and care needs. I think for those seniors who are living in the grey zone of independent living, the isolation/ physical contact restrictions, has been a great challenge. Forget about those who could not see their physicians, and those who had surgery and treatment delays but consider the relatively healthy senior who is living with early signs of physical infirmity or cognitive decline. I think this group was significantly impacted.
As we hear promises of health reform, I really hope that we will see creative and alternative housing options being carefully considered as well. These include such initiatives as cooperative and shared housing. On this note I thought I would share some earlier writings on this topic. Ending Loneliness, A Spare Bedroom and A Shortage of Affordable Housing and A new take on the ‘granny suite’ and Intergenerational Living: Free Rent for Students and Socialization for the Elderly .
How do you want to age in place and do you want to do it alone or with some friends?