Can My Older Adult Loved One Stay at Home Alone?
By FindLaw Staff | Legally reviewed by Laura Temme, Esq. | Last reviewed December 08, 2022
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One day you will have to consider the well-being of an older adult and if it is still safe for them to live at home alone or be left home alone for spans of time.
Family members may spot warning signs of memory impairment as loved ones grow older. Cognitive decline in aging parents can be emotional to watch.
If Alzheimer's disease runs in the family or shows signs of starting, it can make the decision feel urgent. It often causes disagreements between family caregivers and the older person who wants to keep their freedom.
It might be a family-wide discussion and decision, or the choice might fall on you alone. People legally named power of attorney for health care decisions or legally made a conservator or guardian will have to make the final decision.
Important Senior Care Questions To Consider
A caregiver or loved one should ask themselves the following questions about the older adult in their life. Can my loved one:
- Safely prepare nutritious meals?
- Eat and drink well without supervision?
- Stay steady on their feet?
- Get in and out of the shower or tub safely?
- Keeps themselves clean?
- Get dressed without assistance?
- Get to the bathroom as needed?
- Create, or do they currently have, interests and friends to keep life interesting?
- Be cautious with the stove, candles, irons, and other heat sources?
- Smoke without falling asleep?
- Navigate stairs safely?
- Call someone who can be there quickly if the need arises?
- Access transportation to the grocery store, pharmacy, doctor, dentist, and social occasions?
More "true" or "yes" answers to the questions above make it more likely your older relative can stay at home.
A few "no" responses may mean that regular in-home care is required. Nursing home care may be an appropriate option if there are more "no" than "yes" answers.
Questions To Ask Yourself and Your Family
The questions above are a good guideline for your loved one, but you must also consider yourself and your family. Ask yourselves:
- Do I feel at ease during the day knowing that my loved one is home alone?
- Can I sleep well knowing my loved one isn't supervised at night?
- Am I being called over to help them constantly?
- Can we afford to keep their house and the memory care or health care they may need soon?
- Are they getting regular check-ins with friends or family?
- Is their quality of life still high?
- Is it an emotional or stressful strain to meet their house upkeep or personal care needs?
It is not easy to admit an older loved one's independent living is a strain on you and your family. It can also be problematic if they currently live in your home but need memory care or better health care options.
A senior living community, assisted living facility, or at-home long-term care situation can provide a range of options.
Get a Lawyer's Opinion
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options. You want to protect your loved one legally and financially and provide them with the best care. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer who can help with various older adult law concerns.
Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?
- For situations involving nursing homes, it’s best to ask an attorney their opinion
- Get customized advice and ask your legal questions
- Many attorneys offer a free consultation