Should My Elderly Loved One Live Alone?

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.

Adult children and other family members may spot warning signs of memory impairment as loved ones age. It's difficult to watch cognitive decline in aging parents.

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 older people who want 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 must make medical care and financial decisions.

Important Senior Care Questions To Consider

A caregiver or loved one should ask themselves the following questions about the older adult in their life. Does my loved one:

  • Have basic decision-making capabilities?
  • 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 help?
  • Get to the bathroom as needed?
  • Have interests and friends to keep life interesting?
  • Use caution 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 or elderly parent can stay at home.

A few "no" responses may mean the person needs regular in-home care. Assisted living, nursing home, or living full-time with family may be appropriate options 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?
  • Are they calling me over to help them constantly?
  • Can we afford to keep their house and the memory care or health care they may need?
  • Are they getting regular check-ins with friends or family?
  • Is their quality of life still high?
  • Does meeting their house upkeep or personal care needs an emotional or stressful strain?

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 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 offer various options.

Next Steps

If the answers to these questions lead you to determine they need more comprehensive care, there are some next steps to consider.

To address your loved one's potential unmet care needs, start by evaluating their specific challenges with daily activities or medical requirements. Consult health care professionals, like their primary care physician or a geriatric specialist, for insights into the level of care needed.

If you're considering in-home care, explore options such as home health aides or visiting nurses, ensuring their services align with your loved one's requirements. For those leaning toward a care facility, visit potential places to assess their environment, staff expertise, and atmosphere, engaging in discussions with staff and residents before making an informed decision.

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. Find a lawyer to help with various legal issues, from elder abuse to estate planning concerns.

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