Should My Aging Parent Live Alone?

While there are some clear signs that an aging parent or loved on needs some help on a daily basis, there are other, more subtle indicators that an elderly parent shouldn’t be living alone. These signs are not exhaustive, nor do they mean your loved one needs 24/7 supervision. But they can be good indicators that it’s time to start having conversations about their well-being and their future.

Signs Your Aging Parent Shouldn’t Live Alone

They’re always exhausted. Chronic, underlying health conditions or even dementia can interfere with normal sleep patterns, making your loved one tired all the time. Sleep is critical for physical and cognitive functioning, and if they’re not getting enough of it, it can make their problem worse. At the very least, exhaustion is a symptom you should encourage them to talk with their doctor about.

Covering up or denying problems. No one wants to feel like they’re giving up their independence. So sometimes they hide problems they’re having, like difficulty interacting with others, trouble driving, falls or other injuries, or having more serious cognitive problems than just a few “senior moments” now and then.

Inappropriate behavior, clothing or speech. If they’re not dressing for the weather or are acting in ways that are out of character, there may be more going on than anyone realizes. There could be an issue with medication management or an undiagnosed medical or cognitive problem that needs attention.

Their internet or shopping habits have changed. Have they been buying things they don’t need or taking on unusual debt? Are they connecting with unfamiliar people via social media or email? They could be at risk for identity theft or fraud. And it could be a symptom of a cognitive decline.

They get lost going to familiar places. If they’re having trouble navigating to familiar destinations, like the grocery store, bank or house of worship, it poses a risk to themselves and to others.

They have more difficulty walking. Be on the lookout for complaints about or signs of dizziness, trouble walking steadily on level ground, problems getting up and down stairs, or multiple falls. Falling is a major cause of serious injury in seniors, so it may be time for assistive devices or a move to a community setting designed for those with limited mobility.

They’ve become more isolated. Having physical or cognitive problems aren’t the only reasons to consider a senior living community. If your loved one can no longer drive, the risk of isolation and its many consequences is much higher.

Some challenges for aging parents living alone simply require some creative thinking and outside help. If chores or cooking are difficult, cleaning or meal delivery services are available. But if there are signs of more serious issues, a senior living community may be the best solution. In a maintenance-free community with meal plans, social activities, health care and friendly neighbors, your loved one can be in safer, more engaging environment – and the whole family can enjoy more peace of mind.

If you’d like to start exploring senior living options near your loved one, give us a call and we can answer any questions you may have.

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