How to Know When an Elderly Person Can’t Live Alone

Woman Talking to Doctor

Aging is an inevitable process. And aging parents sparks conversations among friends and family. And if you have an elderly parent living alone, this question comes up in many homes.

Due to the advances in medicine made every day, we are able to live longer and healthier lives with increasing quality. Unfortunately, there still isn’t a cure that can stop aging. With that comes certain difficulties elderly people face as they age. At some point, most elderly people become incapable of living alone and taking care of themselves.

When this happens, it’s time to look into specialized facilities that are dedicated especially to seniors (such as an assisted living facility), or taking care of the family member in your home.

Nursing homes are a great opportunity for the elderly to live full lives, without having to worry about the things they cannot do themselves. The conditions are usually very nice, the staff are caring and because there are other people around the same age, socialization is easy to achieve.

But what are the warning signs showing they’re not safe living at home alone?

When should you start to look into an assisted living facility (or something similar)?

Here are a few warning signs that an elderly person will probably lead a better life in such a specialized facility.

3 Warning Signs to Look for in Those Living Alone

Sign One: A Person is Severely Disabled

According to the official data, most of the people living in nursing homes are over 85 years of age. Older people tend to have more trouble getting around. They also usually have some sort of disability that renders them unable to perform normal daily activities.

If this is the case with your elderly relative (or loved one), it may be time to consider other options.

For example A person that has significantly impaired mobility, is visually or hearing impaired, or suffers from incontinence might be a good fit for nursing home care.

Sign Two: Mental Conditions and Depression

Besides physical problems, people who have certain mental conditions and degenerative brain diseases (like Alzheimer’s disease) are usually candidates for such care.

Such diseases negatively affect a person’s life to a point when they can no longer live alone without assistance. Dementia is probably the most common condition, resulting in an inability to think properly and remember things, including their own identity.

More often than not, seniors suffer from depression too, which is another condition that increases their need for assistance.

Potential signs to keep an eye on with older family members here:

  • Weight loss
  • Unopened mail piling up
  • Ability to hold a conversation

Potential causes of depression are plentiful. However, one quick red flag is how social your family member used to be, and how many visits they get now. That depression could be loneliness. If that’s the case, assisted living is a solid option for an aging parent, family members, or loved one.

These care facility options allow for independent living while giving them constant attention (via the attendants working there) and other residents in the community.

It’ll take some getting used to, but many will see all the activities of daily living are there (as well as people of in a similar age group). Your family member’s ability to continue every day life is much higher in a community if they’ve shown any sign of cognitive impairment, or trouble living alone

Note: There is a varying level of care depending on what type of assisted living or retirement community you and your elderly parent choose.

Sign Three: Your Elderly Parent Struggles to Live Alone

Other factors can be the lack of spouse and other family members. Elderly people who have recently lost their life partners can struggle with normal activities as they get older. With nobody around to help them, they lose the ability to function and perform basic tasks like going to the market or maintaining proper personal hygiene.

In such cases, family support is a great alternative.

Seniors who have children and grandchildren can get help for some of the things they can’t do. Good organization, planning, and time management from the person’s children is a way to help them remain at home longer.

Another option is to hire a nurse or a caregiver. Someone to do the chores around the house and do the shopping, as well as help with the senior’s hygiene.

If that’s not an option, you could attempt to arrange for a friend or neighbor to stop by and help out as much as they can.

Deciding to live in a nursing home is incredibly tough and emotionally demanding.

Not all people are willing to leave their homes and the idea of this can be quite intimidating. Keep in mind that no one can be forced to live in such a facility, so be sure to be considerate when looking into and discussing this option.

Is Long Term Care the Best Option?

Living alone is tough for some who don’t suffer from any mobility or mental problems. And if you’re elderly parent or a family member has chosen to live independently and alone, then it’s best to try and help them with their living arrangement.

  • Improve their house by making it more accessible
  • hanging the door handles to make them easier to open
  • Add or subscribe to safety equipment (like a personal alarm that calls EMS)
  • Seek health care options and medical services (like in-home healthcare)
  • You and your other family members visit regularly to prevent loneliness
  • While you’re there, check on their health, help them take care of their medications by filling pillboxes

However, when you see a potential red flag, and they are no longer safe, it’s time to ask yourself (and potentially get advice from other friends and family) if it’s time to look at care facilities. You want them to be happy and healthy.

Sometimes, in order for them to be healthy, they may have to make changes. Have those discussions with your elderly parent, or loved one, when it’s time. Surround them with loving family members and decide what’s right.