Living alone in old age is a reality. Some people outlive their spouses, and children may migrate for economic reasons. Many people are happy living alone but some become lonely and isolated. Living alone can be risky in illness. If you live alone, or you know someone who does, here are some points that you should consider:
- Are you happy living alone? You may want to consider other options, including moving to sheltered housing or moving into an old-age home.
- You should have a telephone. If you do not have it, consider installing one.
- Falls in the home are a common cause of injury among older people. Requirements for safe homes have been described elsewhere in this book.
- Pin details of your doctor and close relatives (address and telephone number) in an obvious place so that people know whom to contact in an emergency.
- If you do want to stay where you are, certain changes can make your life easier and safer as you grow older.
- Your home should have adequate basic security such as door and window locks and a door chain.
- Keep a stock of basic foods so that in an emergency you have enough supplies to last for three or four days.
In an emergency, the best people who help (and who may need your help) are those living nearby, so try to get to know some neighbours. If you arrange a daily telephone call or a quick visit to or from someone nearby, they will know when something is amiss. Be sure to let them know if you plan to be away.