Optimize Aging for Wisconsin’s “Elder Orphans” with Home Care Assistance


Optimize Aging for Wisconsin’s “Elder Orphans” with Home Care Assistance

Today’s post highlights how home care assistance plans mitigate the unique risks faced by Wisconsin’s growing “elder orphan” population.

Wisconsin’s ‘Elder Orphans’ Face Serious Health Risks

The journal of Current Gerontology and Geriatrics Research defines an “elder orphan” as someone who enters seniorhood without a nearby support system, typically made up of spouses, children, and grandchildren, to help them overcome the challenges of aging. Thus, even seniors with multiple adult children can be considered “elder orphans” if their family members live far away.

Elder orphans live alone and are typically socially isolated, which puts them at risk of a whole range of health and safety risks, including:

  • Social isolation and depression are comorbid disorders; they often occur simultaneously, and they each make the other worse.
  • Weakened immune system. Seniors who feel lonely may have weakened immune cells that struggle to fight off viruses, making them more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Dr. Steve Cole, director of the Social Genomics Core Laboratory, calls senior isolation “a fertilizer for other diseases.”
  • Increased inflammation. Loneliness may alter the tendency of cells in the immune system to promote inflammation, which translates to longer recovery time after exercise, injury, or illness.

Unfortunately, social isolation isn’t the only thing elder orphans have to worry about. Even with adequate social support, they face major health risks while aging in the home alone.

Simple activities of daily living (ADLs) like healthy meal preparation may become burdensome or even unsafe as the challenges of aging mount. Without help, many seniors turn to convenience foods, which are often highly processed, calorie-dense, and devoid of important micronutrients. A 2016 meta-analysis of 54 geriatric studies that focused on nutrient intake among community-living adults ages 65 and older concluded that up to 83% are at risk for malnutrition.

As home maintenance, cleaning, and more basic ADLs like dressing and bathing become difficult, they may become neglected, which further increases your loved one’s risk of falling, injury, and hygiene-related health problems.

According to a 2016 study, more than 1 in 5 Wisconsin seniors currently live in situations that meet the criteria for “elder orphanhood.”

Keeping Wisconsin’s Elder Orphans Safe With Home Care Assistance

Whether you’re trying to find a home helper for yourself, or coordinating remote home care assistance for an aging parent who lives out of town, Always Best Care of Greater Milwaukee can help.

Our individualized home care assistance plans support seniors in any way they need. From basic help with the activities of daily living to intensive 24/7 live-in support, we have what you’re looking for.

All of our plans are easy to scale up or down, and every service is flexible. Many “elder orphans” start with simple home helper support and companionship, then graduate to more comprehensive services as their care needs change over time.

Learn More About Home Care Assistance in Brookfield, Wisconsin

Fill out the simple contact form on the Always Best Care Greater Milwaukee or call 262-439-8616 to book a free consultation to discuss our individualized home care assistance service plans.

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