The baby boomer generation is growing older which is leaving many Millennials wondering, “Can I leave my elderly parent home alone?” Whether or not to leave an elderly parent alone is a difficult decision, especially because once you determine they cannot be alone, you need to figure out what to do next.
Some signs can help you determine if you need to make a change to your elderly parent’s living situation:
Your parent frequently falls simply from losing their balance.
The home is messy and unclean - stacks of dirty dishes, piles of unopened mail, and bugs in the kitchen are strong indicators that there is a problem.
Your parent is losing weight or does not appear to be taking care of their hygiene.
Your parent is not taking medication correctly - either taking it too often or forgetting to take it completely.
They get lost in places that should be familiar or forget where they are going when driving.
What To Do When a Parent Can’t Live Alone
Once you make the difficult decision that your elderly parent living alone is no longer safe, you have many options. First, you can coordinate with your parent’s friends, and family. Your parent may be able to move in with you or a sibling. Friends can stop by and visit when you are not available.
When aging parents can’t live alone and moving in with family is not feasible, there are still other options that can help your parents stay in their home if they choose. There are many different home care services that can help with everything from providing companionship to help with hygiene and grocery shopping, and doing laundry. Live-in and overnight care is an option for patients that need someone with them 24/7 to stay safe and healthy.
Important Things to Remember About Elderly Parents Living Alone
Is it illegal to leave a bedridden person alone?
The legality of this question varies by state, but generally, it is not considered safe to leave a bedridden person alone for any time. Any number of things could happen that would be especially dangerous for someone who is not mobile, such as a fire in the house.
Leaving a person with dementia alone
Whether or not a dementia or Alzheimer’s patient can live alone depends on the stage of the disease. In the early stages of cognitive decline, it may be safe for the person to live alone with support and safety precautions. However, once the person begins to show impaired judgment or exhibits any other warning signs listed above (like not taking care of hygiene or getting lost in unfamiliar places), new living arrangements should be considered.
The question of how long you can leave an elderly person alone will be different for everyone and their particular situation. Have a conversation with your elderly parents and find out their wishes - do they want to move into assisted living while they are still cognizant? Would they prefer in-home care? What is on your own personal checklist for knowing when they can no longer live alone, whether or not they agree?
Determining answers to these questions in advance will make stressful situations easier and help you be prepared for what may come.