A 12/22/16 New York Times article provides an excellent overview of the problem, along with some alarming statistics. For instance, half of all those 85 years and older live alone today. And the loneliness that often results can lead to not only depression, but also a host of physical problems – including an increased likelihood of heart disease and stroke. One analysis found that the lonely have a 30% higher risk of dying in the next seven years.
This is precisely why I have come to the conclusion that living in a community of people your own age can be the best solution – often even better than living with oh-so-busy children. Whether that means an apartment complex for seniors, a Golden Girls arrangement, or an assisted-living or long-term-care facility, such communities can be the surest way to combat social isolation.
If you’re faced with this sort of decision for yourself or a beloved parent, I hope you won’t automatically assume that the elderly are happiest living with their children. In some idyllic situations, they may be; but I’ve known a number of people who would have been far happier living with their peers. It’s certainly an alternative worth exploring, ideally when there’s still plenty of time to investigate all the possibilities.