Hands of teenage girl and her grandmother at home.

The Big Challenges Seniors Face in Everyday Life

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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 simplest of slights to some real hurdles. Even though everyone is unique — and has his or her own situation — there are indeed some common challenges that those lucky enough to reach an advanced age can recognize.

Related: The Biggest Retirement Regrets Among Seniors

Senior opening jar

Declining Strength

It’s frustrating to not 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 countless tools and gadgets created to help, from zipper pulls to jar-openers, grab bars to heavy-duty grocery totes.

Related: 29 Products and Services to Make Seniors' Lives Easier

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 SeniorAdvice.com 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. A 2020 report from AARP noted that older Americans are “increasingly drawn” to new technology, from smartphones to laptops. That’s encouraging, but still, the report noted, they might not be getting the most out of their purchases: “Although older adults expressed enthusiasm for trying out new devices, their responses indicate they don’t always use the tech to its full potential.” There are countless study guides, free courses and help lines to optimize seniors' experience.

Related: 15 Things That Seniors Can Learn From Teenagers

Single senior man cooking turkey

Facing New Responsibilities

As couples age, losing a spouse becomes more common. For some widows or widowers, that means countless new responsibilities. Perhaps the late spouse was in charge of cooking, buying all the family gifts or paying the bills … 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, gasp, pulled over on the roadside to consult your foldout map. Many phones and new-model 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.

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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 reportedly said, “Once you stop learning you start dying.”

Related: 12 Budget-Friendly Tips to Boost Brainpower

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 will 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.

Related: For Seniors: How to Decide When to Move From Your Home?

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 will 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 reminds, “As our bodies change, so do our nutritional needs.”

Senior Adult's Hand on the Steering Wheel

Knowing Their Car’s (Many) Features

We’ve not yet reached "The Jetsons" era, but cars today offer more features than ever before. For those who can still recall driving station wagons, without seat belts, outfitted with AM dial radios — and even having the 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 heavy 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. As Illinois-based Snyder Village, a senior community, notes, “Certainly driving yourself does provide a source of transportation, but driving also provides independence. 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.

Related: 15 Popular Cars for Drivers Over 50

Doctor and patient in ophthalmology clinic

Seeing Straight

When did we lose that 20-20 vision? Many of us have worn glasses for years — or relied on readers for a boost. As we age, though, it’s not uncommon for vision issues to increase. The journal American Family Physician has reported that “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.” Keeping on top of this health issue is key, and an annual checkup is recommended.

An elderly woman with hearing aid

Hearing Everything

Seniors and hearing aids … it’s another stereotype, though there is truth there. The Hearing Health Foundation notes that age-related hearing loss is a natural result of the body aging. “It is one of the most common conditions affecting older and elderly adults.” Again, regular checkups —  and investigating any issues — will go a long way to keeping a senior safe, as well as from feeling isolated.

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. The CDC has reported that “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.” 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 “The UnLonely Project,” designed to foster connections through the arts.

Related: 28 Ways to Beat Loneliness in Retirement

Ensuring less chance of injury during his workout
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.”

Related: No Pension. No 401(k). How to Get by on Social Security

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. As Colorado-based Jewish Family Services reports, “Age should not define a person or diminish respect from others. 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, this is 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 the extreme. It’s a fine line between caring and smothering. Try to be grateful for the concern, but speak up if it truly 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. A blog post from The Arbor Co., which operates more than 40 senior living communities across 11 states, notes this role reversal can bring unexpected results: “For many adult children, the shift from care recipient to caregiver sparks an identity crisis.”

Related: Moving in With Your Adult Kids? Here's How to Make It Work

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 — can be real concerns. Seniors can check with their doctor’s office for trustworthy ways to secure prescription discounts — and the best ways to keep their prescriptions on schedule.

Patient in a medical consult wearing face mask
FG Trade/istockphoto

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
katleho Seisa/istockphoto

Making Major Decisions

Everyone will come to the end of his or her life, but not everyone is prepared to deal with it 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.

Related: What to Do When a Loved One Dies

Senior Woman With Credit Card
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 as opposed to 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 wardrobe.

Happy mexican grandparents and grandson playing with balloon

A Family Balance

Some seniors want to escape the decades of family responsibility. For others, this is the 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 make sure everyone is on the same page, so that harmony and happy memories emerge.

Related: Moving in With Your Adult Kids? Here's How to Make It Work

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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. As the world continues to “re-open,” some routines may return but may be altered. As the Wall Street Journal reports, “Old social networks and activities will need to be reset, which could lead to feelings of anxiety for many older adults.” In many locations, unfortunately, many pre-pandemic activities have not yet resumed — and might never. Seniors should be aware this is a time to make new routines, create new opportunities and forge ahead.

Related: 15 Ways the Coronavirus Has Changed Americans' Daily Lives