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By Kimberly Jensen
Senior Resource Advocate 

Loneliness and Dementia; Insurance and Living Facilities

QUAIL CORNER

 

Last updated 7/9/2021 at 9:17pm | View PDF



My mom has been living by herself during the COVID pandemic, and I am noticing she is getting extremely forgetful. Does she have dementia?

The fear of getting COVID has been very detrimental to the mental health of our seniors. Older adults who are socially isolated show more rapid cognitive decline than those who are in a social senior setting.

Loneliness has been found to increase the risk of developing dementia exponentially, especially when there is a loss of a spouse (who used to bring much needed companionship). In fact, loneliness has an influence like other more well-established dementia risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, physical inactivity and hearing. Social activity can buffer seniors against cognitive decline.

Maintaining relationships in person and staying social is a key element for protecting brain health from the negative impacts of loneliness. Seniors who place themselves in a social setting such as a communal environment, like senior living, or move into a home with other seniors, feel more satisfied in their relationships and have a much lower risk of dementia.

Yes, your mother probably does have some dementia, but by getting her involved with social interaction now, you can help to slow her decline. Now that churches, restaurants and senior centers are re-opening, it is important for her to feel purpose-filled and actively engaged with others.

I am looking into moving to a senior independent/assisted living community. Does insurance pay for it?

Independent living and assisted living communities in Tulare County are private pay. If you were wise enough to get a long-term care insurance policy (one that includes residential care facilities), it will help you pay the assisted living fees. Long-term care insurance policies are purchased separately from health insurance and have hefty premiums. They are life savers, however, when you start using them to cover expenses and once activated, you no longer pay the premium. If you have a long-term care policy, look at it and see how much it will pay per day towards your assisted living fees. It will give you a better idea of how much you can spend when the time comes.

Many seniors want to stay in their homes for as long as possible, but with that comes isolation and possible falls and injuries that occur when the delay of medical services is introduced. I always recommend that seniors who insist on living in their homes have a person they call twice a day to check in with them to say that they are alright.

Many independent and assisted facilities will allow friends to share apartments, which means they split the cost of senior living, making it easier on the finances. Make sure you get along well with your roommate because if one of the two of you is no longer in the apartment, the remaining party will have to pay the full price.

Kimberly Jensen has been working with Quail Park as a Senior Resource Advocate for over ten years and has helped hundreds of families find solutions to their senior problems. If you have a question, you can send it to her at KimberlyJ@QPCypress.com or call (559) 737-7443.

 

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