Being the adult child of an aging parent who requires care-giving or medical service can be difficult. The continual fear of having an elderly parent accidentally fall or hurt themselves is something that many individuals must live with. These fears only grow more as the parent gets older. If your senior lives alone, there can be a feeling of helplessness because you may not be there in time to save your parents from taking a spill.
With advanced age there is also the possibility of a senior experiencing memory impairment from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. These impairments make daily life a struggle, getting in the way of taking medication, remembering how appliances work, and forgetting chores. With no assistance or personal care, many seniors could find themselves unable to get through the day or in serious harm’s way.
Why Seniors Shouldn’t Live Alone
According to a report from the Administration of Aging, nearly 30% of all seniors (more than 11 million individuals) are living at home alone. From that number, almost half could possibly need help with basic activities such as cooking, cleaning, and getting dressed. As the odds of contracting Alzheimer’s increases every ten years after the age of 65, the likelihood of needing assistance also increases.
Studies show that many seniors would prefer to stay in their homes for as long as possible. This is not surprising, as we naturally grow attachments to our surroundings, especially the houses in which we live and spend lots of time. For many adults at an advanced age, it can be frightening to say goodbye to the neighborhood and your possessions in order to live in a senior living community. While this can be a frightening transition, moving into an assisted living or senior living community can mean a whole new opportunity to build relationships and memories with a brand new group of people and places.
Quality of life depends largely on your environment, and having a safe, supportive, social environment may ultimately be better for your senior. To determine if it may be time for your senior to possibly move into an assisted living environment, look out for several of these signs:
- Do household belongings and items seem more cluttered than usual?
- Does your loved one seem scatterbrained or more forgetful than usual?
- Does your loved one have difficulty remembering to take medication or remembering dates?
- Does your loved one wear mismatched clothes or has un unkempt appearance?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it may be time to consider looking into affordable senior living options nearby.
Why Living Alone is Unsafe
There are many reasons why an aging senior should not be living alone. Hazards related to accidental falls, misusing medication, possible break ins, and isolation could all contribute to serious adverse health effects. Here are some signs to watch out for that could indicate your senior may be at risk of harm if they continue to live alone.
- Declining Eyesight: If your loved one struggles to read the directions on a microwave meal container, read a book, recognize the symbols on a washing machine, or finger a remote control, they could wind up causing harm to themselves or others.
- Rapid Weight Loss: Having a senior with decreased appetite could be a sign of declining health. The organs create less and less output with advanced age, meaning your senior’s appetite could completely dwindle away. They may also have memory problems and forget when their last meal was.
- Worsening Illness: If your senior’s health conditions only seems to worsen despite your best efforts, it may be impossible for you to adequately care for them. New conditions such as diabetes and heart problems will eventually require medical monitoring in order to keep your loved one’s health under control.
- Mood Swings: Does your elderly loved one have unexplained mood swings or have sudden outbursts? Do they overreact to minor frustrations? The slow onset of dementia and related illnesses can be hard to accept and stir deep seated emotions.
How to Approach Your Loved One
Once you have identified whether your senior is in need of possibly moving to a senior living community, you can follow these simple steps to guide you through the process of having a tough conversation.
- Be Prepared: Know the difference between assisted living and independent living facilities. Do your best to anticipate what your loved one’s care needs will be and come armed with possible locations and price points for them. Be prepared to explain how the different options and arrangements will be beneficial and discuss how a senior living community could be beneficial for them.
- Don’t Get Discouraged: It is possible that your elderly loved one may be entirely opposed to the idea. After all, it’s being asked to step away from everything they’ve known to spend their years in a non-private residence. Attachments to households and ways of living run deep, so don’t be discouraged if they outright refuse to enter a senior living home. The key is being open and honest about your concerns about them as well as the dangers of living alone. You can always revisit the discussion at a later time.
- Ask for Their Input: The most important part of finding a senior living home for your elderly loved one is that they end up in a place that makes them happy and cares for them. Never condescend and assume to know exactly what is best for your loved one. Show what options are available and ask what they think. You can discuss amenities and prices and show pictures of what the community looks like.
Having an aging parent or relative living at home alone can be a dangerous prospect. With an assisted living facility, seniors can receive the care they need while socializing and engaging in new activities. There’s nothing more important than keeping your loved one safe and happy while preserving their independence and dignity. If you’re ready, have the conversation with your loved one about how senior living can drastically improve and enrich their life.