The Big Challenges Seniors Face in Everyday Life

Hands of teenage girl and her grandmother at home.


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Hands of teenage girl and her grandmother at home.

The Daily Grind

The so-called golden years can be filled with frustrating issues, from the simple to the complex. Despite each human being's uniqueness, there are some common challenges that those who reach an advanced age experience. Thankfully, one sensory challenge just got a little easier to manage after a ruling by the Food and Drug Administration that promises to make one medical device cheaper and more easily available.

Related: The Biggest Retirement Regrets Among Seniors

An elderly woman with hearing aid

Hearing Everything

Seniors and hearing aids. It’s a stereotype, though there is truth there. The Hearing Health Foundation notes that age-related hearing loss is a natural result of aging. “It is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults.” Regular checkups and exams go a long way to keeping seniors healthy and from feeling isolated. Plus, access to hearing aids just got easier: Products for mild to moderate hearing loss can be purchased over-the-counter without a medical exam starting as soon as mid-October, following an executive order signed by President Biden. Easier access that seeks to foster innovation brings with it the promise of less expensive devices down the line.

Related29 Products and Services to Make Seniors' Lives Easier

Senior opening jar

Declining Strength

It’s frustrating not to be able to open a jar, lift a bag of groceries, or climb into a bathtub the way you used to. WebMD reports that muscle loss can come with inactivity, often what happens in aging: “Any loss of muscle matters because it lessens strength and mobility.” Luckily, there are numerous tools and gadgets created to help, from zipper pulls to jar openers, grab bars to heavy-duty grocery totes.

senior woman using a walker at home.

Loss of Mobility

It’s the classic scenario — we age, we slow down. Some seniors might need a walker at all times; others might crave the security of a cane that transforms into a seat. A doctor can help determine the best course of action, but notes that “Many senior mobility issues can be remedied with walking aides or by making small changes in the home to better accommodate the senior’s needs.”

Reading news

Keeping Up With Technology

It’s not true that all seniors fear technology. Many older adults "continue to reach for their devices … with a significant rise in the use of smartphones and tablets," according to AARP. That’s encouraging, but still, the report noted, older adults see shortcomings.when it comes to inclusivity. "Two in 5 adults 50-plus don’t feel technology is designed with older adults in mind, citing the offerings’ complexity, poor user experience, and insufficient training materials." But there are tools to help remedy those concerns, including countless study guides, free courses, and help lines to optimize seniors' experience.

Single senior man cooking turkey

Facing New Responsibilities

As couples age, losing a spouse becomes more common. For some widows or widowers, that means taking on new responsibilities. If the late spouse was in charge of cooking, buying family gifts, or paying the bills, it may be time to learn new skills.

Problem with a orientation on the road, bad navigation. Traveling and transportation concept

Getting Directions

Long gone are the days when you pulled into a gas station and asked the attendant for directions or pulled over on the roadside to consult a foldout map. Many phones and new cars feature GPS capability, but for those who live life the old-fashioned way, getting directions can prove a challenge. Luckily, purchasing a GPS system is easy.

How does this website thing work again

Understanding Contemporary Issues

It’s a good bet that words and phrases such as non-binary or net-zero emissions were not taught — or even conceived of — back when today’s seniors were in school. That’s no reason to remain in the dark. As Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning you start dying.”

Senior black woman reading a book

Putting Themselves First

For many, especially parents, life focuses on the next generation — taking care of their daily needs, providing for their future, ensuring their growth. Seniors don’t abandon that role completely, but it’s time to realize, without guilt, that once your job is done, it’s time to focus on your own wants, needs and interests. You deserve it.

Senior Hispanic couple buying new home

Deciding Where to Live

For much of life, people live out of need or habit. It’s where they grew up or where they raised their kids or where they had an easy commute to work. When life changes, possibilities open up. As you age, you may need less space — or perhaps more, to accommodate your new art studio or music room. You might want to find a place that can help you transition if and when you need assisted living. You might have long desired to live by the sea or in the mountains. Deciding where and how to live may suddenly be a new decision.

FAM, slang for family. Laptop, digital tablet and mobile phone with a hashtag and the letters FAM beside them.

Knowing the Lingo

ICYMI, there is a lot of lingo to learn these days if you want to keep up with the times. Sure, many seniors might not be checking out the latest Instagram posts, but cultivating a working knowledge of today’s terms can prevent you from feeling much older than your years, especially when chatting with someone much younger.

African-American woman in grocery store reading label

Eating Right

No one wants to feel they are being deprived, no matter his or her age. But as we age, eating healthy holds more importance. Sure, you might like to have chips and a beer with your favorite TV show — but make that a treat not an everyday experience. As AARP says, “As our bodies change, so do our nutritional needs.”

Senior Adult's Hand on the Steering Wheel

Getting Abreast of New Car Technology

We’ve not yet reached "The Jetsons" era, but cars today offer more features than ever. For those who still recall driving without seat belts, and with only an AM dial radio and even a manual gear shift on the steering column, today’s treasure trove of options can be daunting. Those treating themselves to a new car, a retirement gift, perhaps, may need to do some research.

Worried Senior Male Driver Looking Through Car Windscreen

Knowing Their Driving Capabilities

One situation many seniors face, one that is soberingly important, is knowing when it’s time to turn in the keys. Losing a lifetime of freedom behind the wheel is a very hard topic to deal with, often requiring family input and sometimes, even a doctor’s intervention. “Certainly, driving yourself does provide a source of transportation, but driving also provides independence," according to a blog post by Snyder Village, a senior community in Metamora, Illinois. "It is a way you can connect with others, and it provides a sense of identity. Driving gives you freedom and spontaneity to allow you to go wherever you want, whenever you want.” 

Still, safety must prevail – for you and others on the road.

Doctor and patient in ophthalmology clinic

Seeing Straight

When did that 20-20 vision go? Many seniors have worn glasses for years — or relied on readers for a boost. As human beings age, though, it’s not uncommon for vision issues to increase. “Vision loss among the elderly is a major health care problem. Approximately one person in three has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65,” according to the journal American Family Physician.

Keeping on top of this health issue is key, and an annual checkup is recommended.

Senior woman receiving help on care home

Memory Issues

There’s a big difference between having the proverbial senior moment, such as misplacing your keys, and recognizing a serious memory issue. AARP offers a wealth of information related to brain health and wellness, including brain games and tips on staying sharp.

Senior Woman Sitting On Sofa At Home Suffering From Depression

Coping With Loneliness

For some seniors, especially those who have retired or relocated, the loss of their longtime support system, from longtime colleagues to neighbors of decades-long standing, can be devastating. “Loneliness and social isolation in older adults are serious public health risks affecting a significant number of people in the United States and putting them at risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Making an effort to connect with others can be difficult. Among the many options for connecting with others is The Foundation for Art & Healing’s “UnLonely Project,” designed to foster connections through the arts.

Ensuring less chance of injury during his workout

Keeping Fit

Fitness is important at any age, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urges seniors to stay active as they get older, offering tips that seniors can tailor to their own capabilities. And though making time for exercise is important, seniors may also want to be mindful of what to avoid in their workouts.

Pension calculation concept, old hands counting finances on a home calculator , close- up
Olga Shumitskaya/istockphoto

Living on a Fixed Income

The senior years can be sobering when it comes to finances. Suddenly, that endless stretch of years of earning potential isn't so endless. Those who were able to plan ahead may be financially secure, but for many, the senior years may be a time of living within your means – by necessity not choice. The upside? The endless array of senior discounts.

Group of positive seniors European and Asia are sitting on the big sofa and talking which looking television at retirement home. Retired old people are felling sad.
Niphon Khiawprommas/istockphoto

Feeling Invisible

It’s sad but true — older adults are often marginalized. “Age should not define a person or diminish respect from others," according to the Jewish Family Service of Colorado. "There is a generation of people overlooked every day and little attention is paid to this growing problem.” Some cultures revere their elders for their wisdom and experience. Sadly, that's not always the case. Know it’s not a personal attack but a societal ill.

Happy men in a conversation

Being Checked On

Sometimes, older adults welcome being left alone. Suddenly solicitous family members or “thoughtful” neighbors can take checking in to an extreme. It’s a fine line between caring and smothering. Try to be grateful for the concern, but speak up if it becomes intrusive.

Mature woman helping elderly mother with paperwork

Role Reversal

The parent is in need of care. The child must step up. The dynamics of the parent-child relationship can be flipped over time, a natural progression that can be filled with compassion or conflict. Adjustments on each part may be needed. This role reversal can bring unexpected results, according to a blog post from The Arbor Co., an operator of senior-living communities. “For many adult children, the shift from care recipient to caregiver sparks an identity crisis.”

Close Up Of Senior Man Organizing Medication Into Pill Dispenser

Monitoring Meds

It’s a bit of a sight gag — the elderly juggling countless bottles of pills for their many ailments, but the need for properly taking medications and affording them are real concerns. Seniors can check with a doctor for trustworthy ways to secure prescription discounts and keep prescriptions on schedule.

Patient in a medical consult wearing face mask
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Keeping Up With Doctor Visits

For some seniors, the physical and emotional stress of getting up, ready, and out to the doctor is so much that they prefer to skip it. It’s tempting to avoid routine visits but never wise.

We still have a bit of debt to settle
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Making Major Decisions

Everyone dies, but not everyone is prepared to deal with death head on. Seniors sometimes avoid talking about important things, such as wills, health-care directives, funeral wishes, and more. Facing these situations in a timely manner can prevent future heartache. Speaking to a doctor, a lawyer, or doing some research online to see what the options are will help.

Senior Woman With Credit Card

Being Preyed Upon

Sadly, many con artists put senior citizens in their crosshairs. Scam calls, fake bills and various pressure tactics rely on seniors getting into a panic mode. AARP offers numerous tips on avoiding scams and fraud.

Senior woman wearing face mask being helped by a saleswoman while shopping for clothes in a thrift store
FG Trade/istockphoto

What to Wear

Though many challenges seniors face are serious, some are, let’s be honest, on the superficial side. But finding clothes that are age appropriate — but still interesting and flattering, rather than frumpy and outdated — can sometimes be a challenge. Seniors may simply need to spend more time looking so they're both comfortable and at ease with their wardrobes.

Happy mexican grandparents and grandson playing with balloon

A Family Balance

Some seniors want to escape the decades of family responsibility. For others, it's a time to spoil the kids, grandkids, and be even more active in their daily lives. There are health benefits to each approach, both mental and physical. Families need to ensure everyone is on the same page, so that harmony and happy memories emerge.

The Covid-19, health, safety and pandemic concept - senior old lonely woman sitting near the window

Living the Post-Pandemic Life

The after-church social, the book club, the ladies’ lunch, the Sunday morning round of golf … so many routines that were taken for granted were suspended during the pandemic. For many, the lockdown resulted in less mobility and an increase in health issues because of a lack of activity. As the New York Times reports, “Many health experts are worried about worsening physical conditioning and mobility among older adults since COVID-19 upended the daily routine.” Though challenging, resuming a routine and increasing physical activity can help reverse the effects of inactivity and help to recover mobility.