Senior Center

Easing Fears of Senior Living

By Jan Bolder - December 24, 2013

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Aging brings on its own set of fears, such as loss of independence or injuring oneself. Here are some of the most common fears, and how to get past them. 

Falling or Becoming Injured: As adults get older, their body systems start to deteriorate until they'll ultimately fail. One of the most noticeable effects of this is age-related frailty, a sort of "general" condition as opposed to being caused by any specific disease or condition. And as seniors become more frail, falling or sustaining injuries becomes more of a concern. You can help alleviate those fears by installing hand rails, amending tubs by inserting a rubber mat and shower bench, and ensuring your senior has footwear with non-skid soles. While carpeting may provide a softer landing surface in case of falls, it can be more difficult to get sure footing on it. 

Loss of Family and Friends: According to a 2007 survey conducted by Prince Market Research, 61% of seniors fear the loss of relationships either quite a bit (34%) or somewhat (27%.) It's an understandable fear: as seniors age, so do their tastes, hobbies and abilities, create a fear that the chasm between themselves and others will grow too big to be overcome. But you can help your senior by visiting regularly and maintaining a strong relationship as a sign of reassurance.

Giving up Driving: The same study found that fewer seniors fear not being able to drive than they do losing relationships, as a total of 52% responded with this being a fear of aging (34% quite a bit, and 18% somewhat.) This one's a tough one to deal with, as people - not just seniors - have a lot of pride, ego, and confidence associated with driving, and often hang onto it longer than may be safe. What you can do is make sure your senior gets regular eye exams and is in communication with his or her GP (and driving instructor) about maintaining proper driving habits. And never be afraid to take away the keys if you think their driving will harm others in the vehicle or on the road.

Isolation: Somewhat tied to losing relationships with loved ones, seniors also fear becoming isolated in general, such as not having any support networks. Encourage your senior to visit a community center, volunteer in the community, and stay engaged. And if something like bad weather hits, check in on your senior regularly to make sure they're okay.

Loss of Independence: This is the biggest fear seniors face, as getting older is accompanied by decreased body functions, responsiveness and "bounce back". This is especially magnified as they watch their friends around them become injured or diagnosed with things like cancer or Alzheimer's or suffer strokes. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot you can do to prevent the progress of Mother Nature except help your senior maintain as much independence as normal. Just be there to listen to their concerns, and don't always focus on fixing them. Sometimes what they need most is to feel like they're being heard instead of hovered over.

This holiday season, enjoy the time you have with your senior. And from everyone at LivingSenior, Merry Christmas and happy holidays!