You may live alone by choice or because of your circumstances. As you get older you may find that you have outlived your husband or wife, your friends and family. You may find that you have less of a social life. It could be easy to feel lonely and/or isolated.
You may choose to socialise less with others. You may enjoy living alone and prefer the solitude. Alternatively you may not have chosen to live alone and don’t enjoy it. There are good and bad things about living alone as you get older
As you age, you may have chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or heart failure. You may not be managing financially.
You could be managing at home on your own quite well while you are healthy. However this may not be the case if you are very ill. If you are ill for a short time you may have family or friends to help out. If you are ill for a long time this may not be manageable. These people may have to go to work. They may have to care for young children. They may also have their own health issues.
Support at home
If you are feeling alone or isolated, you may like to join a support group. You can meet with other people in a similar situation. This could be a face to face meeting or you may find support groups online. If you feel very low, you can arrange to see your GP. They can chat to you about your situation and discuss what may help, or refer you to another professional who can help.
If you are seriously ill or dying you will need increasing amounts of help. This is the same whether you live alone or not. You can be cared for 24 hours a day at home if you have family and friends able to give much of the care. You could also get advice and support from a community palliative care team. With careful planning, your GP and community nurse can help you to stay at home as long as possible.
If you don’t have family or social support, you can pay for care at home. This can often be very expensive though. There are many home support agencies that are able to help coordinate care at home.
Things such as respite, alarm pendants or home alert systems can be set up. Sometimes you can get ‘after hours’ support. All of this will help you to be cared for at home alone. You may have access to government funded palliative care and /or aged care packages. Some community health services provide forms of practical support. You could also find out about local councils and church groups. This may mean that you are able to get domestic help, help with shopping, getting equipment or help with transportation. Some organisations have volunteers who can help in different ways.
You may want to be cared for at home or die at home. This can be difficult if you don’t have a lot of help and support. You may have to be admitted to hospital if there is a problem. You may need to consider moving into a Residential Aged Care Facility.
You may also not want to be cared for or die at home. You may prefer to be in a hospital or hospice or similar environment. You should be able to join in conversations about where to be cared for or die. You should have these conversations early. You need to be prepared and make plans. Any plans or decisions can always be changed. You are allowed to change your mind.