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When Should a Person With Dementia Stop Living Alone?

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A wallet inside the refrigerator. A man with dementia kept his wallet in a fridge instead in his drawer.

Many people in the early stages of dementia can continue living independently. Of course, they’ll need to take some precautions, but with support and care, it’s possible.

However, dementia is progressive. It affects cognitive abilities, including memory, reasoning, and communication. As it progresses, people with dementia may begin to experience difficulty with daily activities and may require more assistance to meet their needs.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Dementia progresses differently from person to person. You’ll need to keep an eye on your loved one’s self-care, ability to complete daily activities, and social life to decide when they can’t live alone anymore.

No one can tell you exactly when your loved one should stop living alone. However, some general guidelines can help determine when they might need closer care.

The Symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Knowing the common symptoms of dementia can help you catch issues before they become more significant problems. Keep an eye out for if your loved one is having difficulty with any of the following skills:

  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Communication
  • Reasoning, judgment, & problem-solving
  • Vision problems unrelated to eye conditions

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for up to 80% of dementia cases. While other types of dementia exist, it’s very likely what your loved one is going through is Alzheimer’s disease.

Safety Concerns When Living Alone

People with dementia may become confused and disoriented, causing them to wander. This confusion can lead to accidents such as falls or your loved one forgetting how to use household appliances such as an oven or kettle. You can manage some of these concerns by keeping their house well-lit and clear of clutter.

Your loved one may also forget to take their medication or miss doctor’s appointments. If your loved one cannot safely care for themselves, it may be time for them to stop living alone.

a senior with dementia sits at home alone

Activities of Daily Living (ADL)

Experts have indicated six essential activities related to caring for oneself. These are called the activities of daily living (ADLs) and can indicate when someone might require a greater level of care. The six basic ADLs are:

  • Ambulating: being able to move around independently
  • Feeding: being able to maintain your nutritional needs
  • Dressing: being able to select and wear appropriate clothing
  • Personal hygiene: being able to keep yourself clean, including teeth and hair
  • Continence: being able to control your bladder and bowels
  • Toileting: being able to use the toilet independently.

As dementia progresses, people may struggle with tasks such as shopping, cleaning, and managing their finances. If your loved one is regularly unable to perform these ADLs, they may need a live-in caregiver or may need to move to an assisted living community.

Personal Support Network

People with dementia often experience social isolation, which can have a negative impact on their mental and physical health. If a person with dementia lives alone and does not have a solid social support network, they may be at risk for depression and other mental health issues.

You probably see your loved one as much as possible, but it may not be enough. You do have your own life to live, and caregiver burnout is real. 

What to Do When Your Loved One Can’t Live Alone

When your loved one can no longer live alone, you can consider a few options for care. One option is to move the person to an assisted living community. Assisted living communities provide a range of services, including help with daily activities, medication management, and time for social interaction.

Another option is to provide in-home care, which can include a caregiver visiting the person’s home to assist with daily activities and provide companionship. This caregiver can be a family member, friend, volunteer, or paid professional.

It’s important to note this decision is not a one-time thing. It should be reviewed and evaluated regularly. As the disease progresses, your loved one’s needs may change, requiring more support and assistance. You should listen to healthcare professionals, such as a doctor or social worker, to determine the best course of action for your loved one.

A Community of Care

Care for a person with dementia is not only physical but also emotional and mental. Your loved one should be in an environment where they can feel safe and comfortable. Unfortunately, some of our parents are independent, and it can be hard for them to accept their child taking over as a caregiver.

If you’re worried that it’s no longer safe for your loved one to live alone, start a conversation with them. They might not see the risk they’re putting themselves in, and your outside perspective is valuable. 

It can be a difficult decision to stop living alone. But when you and your loved one take that step, our team at Mattison Crossing is ready to take it with you. So if you’re looking for compassionate, expert care for your loved one, book a visit with us today!

Morgan Berardi

Written by Morgan Berardi

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