The American workforce is changing—it’s getting increasingly older! Many people aren’t dropping out of the workforce by 65 anymore. Through most of the twentieth century, they did, but that’s not the case anymore. There are a few reasons for this. Many want to stay in the workforce because they love their job. They enjoy the sense of purpose they get from meaningfully contributing to society. Also, they love having a sense of structure around their days.
If you’ve ever been unemployed, it’s hard to fill the days without a commitment such as work or school. Many elderly people are finding this true for themselves. There’s also the fact that most of an elderly person’s social circle might be composed of coworkers. If they didn’t go to work, the better part of their social circle would be erased from their lives. Unless it’s a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, when most of the family gathers at their house, they would be quite lonely.
However, many people who haven’t retired, even though they legally could, don’t always do it for the above reasons. Some do it because they need the money, which anyone can empathize with. Unfortunately, many elderly people are struggling to stay in their homes. Their younger children are worried about them staying home alone. There are too many reasons to list. There are too many horror stories about elderly people having medical emergencies and being unable to contact anyone. This is coupled with the fact that keeping up a house alone, especially after a spouse has died, can be quite challenging. Consequently, many adult children are pressuring their parents to move out.
However, in today’s current societal landscape, moving out isn’t a great option. Many seniors don’t move in with their children, or with friends that they already know. They move into assisted living facilities or nursing homes, depending on their physical health and medical needs. What if you’re in perfect health, though, and don’t need either of those things? What if you do have some health issues, and have no intention of sacrificing your independence? What can you do then?
Many elderly people are familiar with their independence disappearing gradually. For instance, they fail an eye exam and are no longer able to drive themselves around. With no ability to get groceries or run basic errands, their lifeline to the outside world has is severed. However, that’s no longer the case. If you’re determined to keep your independence as long as possible, you have a variety of options!
Personal technology has evolved to the point where you can maintain your independence longer than anyone else in any generation. For instance, what if you can’t drive in the instance we mentioned above? Public transportation is available, but it’s often hard to run errands. If your stops are only a mile or two apart, and the bus stops are spaced out, it may be hard to get where you need to go without taking all day. And if you aren’t up for hauling your groceries for miles at a time, there’s nothing else to do, right? Wrong! You can call an Uber. By downloading the Uber app onto a smartphone, you can summon a driver to wherever you are. They’ll drive you to your destination. When you’re done grocery shopping, you can call a ride and they’ll take you back home.
What about the struggles of keeping up a home by yourself? If you’re physically impaired, it can be hard to take care of some tasks by yourself. That’s the benefit of smart home devices! They’re specifically engineered to respond to spoken commands. If you don’t want to turn on the lights yourself, you can say something and Alexa will do it. Instead of having to do certain household tasks yourself, you can say “Alexa, raise the blinds.” She’ll do it for you!
What about taking care of the cleaning? Roombas are the answer to that. They take care of vacuuming and cleaning the rugs. These types of smart home devices are a great solution to not being able to take care of all the cleaning yourself anymore. There’s no reason to hire someone else to do the cleaning. If you can’t afford that sort of thing, no need to ask anyone to come over and help you out.
However, even if you can take care of yourself with these devices and services, what about health crises? There are two answers to this question. Firstly, there are health devices that will allow family members to be comfortable with any health issues. Secondly, there will also be an assisted living housing crisis that may culminate in those options no longer being available.
Many devices allow you to monitor your health. If you’re worried about your heart or breathing, for instance, you can wear an Apple Watch. More than just a watch, it’s often used to keep track of your fitness. How many hours are you sleeping, and how many steps are you getting per day? Keeping yourself in good health is a vital step toward preventing any health crises in the future. However, one of the best features of an Apple Watch is that it can give some warning if your heart rate starts to spike.
However, maybe you’re at risk for other health disasters. Or maybe you’re just prone to fall, and your family members have good cause to worry about you living alone. If that’s the case, you can wear medical alert technology. If you fall and don’t respond, an alert will go out to emergency services and emergency contacts. It’s just as fast as someone living with you and calling 911 on their phone! These medical alert options are customizable and can be changed based on your personal needs and who you want them to call.
The second part is that there are far too many people going into assisted living. Many experts are predicting a housing crisis for seniors in the next few years. With nowhere else to go, it’s a question of what will happen to our nation’s seniors after that. Many people are going off to nursing homes and assisted livings at the first signs of aging. Now, there simply isn’t enough space to accommodate them all. Staying in an overcrowded assisted living facility is no one’s idea of a great place to stay, either. So staying out of an assisted living center for as long as possible, especially as the population of the elderly continues to swell, is in everyone’s best interests.
There are many solutions you can pursue if you want to keep your independence as long as possible. Getting comfortable with personal technology, and a myriad of options that it can keep open for you is one of the best decisions you can make!