Updated February 23, 2021 – The top 12 warning signs that your aging parents are no longer safe to live alone could include frequent falls, weight loss, confusion, forgetfulness and other issues related to illnesses causing physical and/or mental decline such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Many adult children and other family caregivers want the best care for their senior loved ones. They often worry (and for good reason) about if and when the day comes that one elderly parent passes away and the other one is left to live alone.
Truth is, the chances of one of your aging parents ending up living alone is fairly high. But that doesn’t mean that they can or should.
Physical and mental deterioration is very common as your parents go into their golden years. But how can you tell if those issues are presenting potential hazards and safety issues for your elderly mother or father if they are living alone?
What should family members be looking for? How does and adult son or daughter make that determination and how to speak to them about it and future elder care?
Living with an extended circle of relatives is the most common type of household arrangement for older people around the world, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. But in the United States, older people are far less likely to live this way – and far more likely to live alone or with only a spouse or partner.Pewresearch.org
How To Know When An Elderly Person Can’t Live Alone?
Some signs that tell you that an aging parent can’t live alone include if they frequently fall, if they leave the stove or oven on without supervision, if they are neglecting their hygiene and their own health, if they are having trouble with daily tasks and if they are mixing up or forgetting their medication.
These and more are strong indicators that it’s no longer safe for your senior loved one to be living by themselves. What the best living solution is for them will depend on how much help they need to care for themselves.
If your parents are insisting on staying in their own home to live their own lives, you and they should know that there are pros and cons to aging in place. Below, we talk about the 12 signs that can warn you that it may be time for your parents to consider an alternative living arrangement.
This could be moving in with a family member, moving to a care facility or a co-housing situation. There are multiple options.
The decision depends on how much care your parents or an elderly relative needs and/or may need in the future. I know you want to do your best to take care of your parents.
12 Warning Signs That Your Parent Shouldn’t Be Living Alone
Here are my top 12 signs that you (as the primary caregiver) and your family or any caregivers should be watching out for to help you determine if your parent is no longer safe to live on their own.
Safety for an older person living alone is paramount.
I also want to stress the importance of caregiver support groups for family members. These groups whether they are in person or on Facebook or virtual, are often an excellent resource of information.
1. Your Aging Parent Frequently Falls
For many elderly living at home, falling is their number one concern.
My elderly mother fell a total of 4 times before we came to the conclusion that she could no longer live alone and that she really shouldn’t be left alone for any length of time.
All her falls happened while she was doing regular household activities. There was nothing that she tripped over or bumped into. She simply lost her balance.
That last fall she had resulted in a large bruise on her face and a small injury to her shoulder that she never recovered from. We were lucky that she did not hurt herself to the point of becoming incapacitated or worse.
You can’t always rely on your parent(s) to tell you that they fell – you have to be a bit of a detective. Here are some signs to look out for:
- You begin to notice that they have cuts or bruises anywhere on their skin
- Any new dents or scrapes on their car
- Items on the floor that shouldn’t be there (they may avoid bending down to pick up some items for fear of losing their balance)
2. Your Parent Has Become A Hermit
It’s certainly not uncommon for many seniors to stay home more than they used to. For some, it’s simply too difficult a task to “get out” to events, meet close friends or even just to go to the grocery store.
For other seniors – mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are the factors that make it too difficult to get out of the house.
But these issues can only lead to loneliness and all the issues that are related to that.
Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation because they are more likely to face factors such as living alone, the loss of family or friends, chronic illness, and hearing loss.Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
3. Their Home Is Messy And Unclean
Daily chores are not as easy to manage when you get older. If you see that your senior loved one is having trouble performing a daily task, it may be time for a discussion on how to help them.
Pushing around a vacuum cleaner can become very labor intensive (especially if they still have the same vacuum cleaner they did 30 years ago!).
It’s also much more difficult to reach high and low places so dusting becomes much harder. These little signs of disarray are not what you should worry about.
Instead, what should send out an alert to family members is if you see stacks of dirty dishes in the sink, dirty clothing piled on the washer or the floor, bugs in the pantry or worse, the refrigerator.
When I worked an Occupational Therapist, I once did a home assessment for a woman who was living alone.
She was scheduled to go home within a week but we had to make sure that her home was safe and that she was going to be safe in it before we discharged her.
When we first arrived, everything seemed fine. She had been gone for 4 weeks so we expected to see some dusty furniture, etc.
When I asked her to show me how she would prepare a meal, she opened the refrigerator and to my horror it was filled with roaches!
But, that wasn’t the worst part. She just reached into the fridge, took out some bread and some cheese (which had a good amount of mold on it) and began to make a sandwich!
Needless to say, we had to advise her family of the potential dangers of her situation and that it was not a good idea that she continue to live alone.
4. Your Older Parent Is Unkempt and Neglecting Their Hygiene
If you notice that an older family member begins neglecting daily self care tasks like showering, dressing, brushing their teeth, etc. – it’s a clear sign that something is wrong.
They may be physically unable to perform their activities of daily living without some extra help. Or there may be some cognitive impairment that is contributing to this behavior. Or this could be a sign of depression.
This, of course, could also be due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or some other cognitive illness that are more common in older people.
Read a related article When Should A Person With Dementia Stop Living Alone?
5. You See Stacks Of Unopened Mail
Normally, what goes along with an untidy home and unkempt hygiene is the accumulation of “stuff” such as mail, garbage, etc. Neglecting these issues is oftentimes a natural part of the person’s aging process depending on their circumstances.
There could be several reasons for this type of neglect:
- Physical difficulties
- Cognitive Decline
- Sensory Decline
Your parent may be suffering from one or several of these issues and as a result, they abandon the daily rituals that they’ve been practicing for decades.
6. Your Parent Is Missing Payments and Deadlines
My mother was extremely fastidious about paying her bills and meeting deadlines for Medicare enrollment, physicals and all the maintenance issues for her home and auto.
After she turned 88 years old it became apparent that she was having a difficult time keeping up with these financial issues, though.
We noticed bills sitting on her kitchen counter, unopened for days. At one point, she missed depositing a check into her bank account which resulted in a bounced check payment to the gas company.
It was then that we knew we had to intervene and help her with these financial chores.
I do wish we had done it sooner but, like most elderly parents, my mother was not willing to let go of control so easily!
But, I do urge you to try as soon as you can to not necessarily take over, but to help with the tasks.
7. They Are Losing Weight
Weight loss in seniors is normally either a sign of neglect or a problem with their mental or physical health. But of course if the weight loss is for no good reason that seems apparent – we strongly recommend a doctor’s checkup.
The types of health problems that could be contributing to weight loss include:
- An overactive thyroid
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Crohn’s disease
- Addison’s disease
- And many others
Other factors that could be contributing to their weight loss could include:
- Difficulty getting to the grocery store or preparing a full meal.
- Ill-fitting or broken / chipped dentures are keeping them from chewing foods (pureeing foods can help with this).
- Some loss of taste and smell which can contribute to a lack of interest in food.
The most pronounced increase in elderly people’s detection threshold has been observed for sour and bitter tastes, but their perception of salty, sweet, and umami tastes also seems to decline with age.National Library of Medicine
8. Your Parent Is Having Trouble Remembering How To Do Simple Familiar Tasks
My mother was a wiz when it came to math. She could do calculations in her head and she was able to complete a game Sudoku in 30 minutes or less.
But when she began having trouble balancing her checkbook and when it started taking her a few hours to complete a Sudoku game – we knew something was wrong.
If you notice that your older parent is unable or having trouble performing tasks that they used to be able to do easily – then that is a very clear sign that they need more help .
At this point, it may be time to look into some care options such as outside help for them.
9. They Are Getting Lost When Going To Familiar Places
When I talk about “getting lost,” what I mean is becoming disoriented – either in their own living room, a friend’s home, driving to their drugstore or grocery store, etc.
Basically, they are having trouble finding areas that once were familiar and now seem foreign.
Now, if it happens once or twice, it’s not necessarily an issue, yet. And it may not become an issue, so don’t panic.
But, I do strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment with the doctor for a cognitive test to determine what kind of dementia may be happening.
That said, if you find out that your mom or dad is getting lost often, then it’s time to take some precautions.
Unfortunately, at this point, depending on it may not get better, it may only get worse depending on their diagnosis.
10. They Forget Or Miscalculate Their Medications
Being able to meet your own medical needs is very important. Hopefully, your senior parent is using some type of pillbox to keep track of their medications.
If you notice that today is Friday and their pillbox has medications in it from Thursday and Wednesday, it’s a very good sign that they are not remembering to take their medication. Or it may be an indication that they are no longer able to comprehend that they should be taking it.
This can easily put them at high risk for serious medical complications.
11. They Become Very Defensive And Paranoid
I saw a friend’s father, at 96 years old, become very defensive and slightly paranoid as he began delving into conspiracy theories and collecting newspaper clippings of these types of stories.
Unfortunately, it’s more common than you would think and these are certainly signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease or some other physical illness.
I strongly urge you to talk to your parent’s doctor about this type of behavior.
We all want our elderly loved ones to live as long as possible in good health and have a good quality of life, so that means being aware of changes when they occur and alerting their physician about it.
12. They Aren’t Attending To Their Medical Care
It can be very difficult to care for yourself when you live alone. And if you are elderly with physical and/or cognitive limitations, caring for yourself is even more challenging.
Your elderly parents may not be going to their doctor for their regular checkups. They also may be having trouble caring themselves if they catch a cold or the flu or suffer any serious injuries.
You may be finding that you are having to call a medical service like 911 every few months to come take them to the emergency room.
All of these are clear signs that your elderly mom and/or dad need more help than they are admitting to.
When A Parent Shouldn’t Live Alone
It happens all the time, all of us can look back on certain events and see the signs. But, while we’re living through an event, it seems that the signs are not as clear to us.
Rebecca and her husband live 500 miles away from her 82-year-old mother, who suffers from arthritis and is exhibiting the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Rebecca worries about her mother’s safety, but every time she shares her concerns, the answer is always the same: “Everything is fine. Stop worrying about me.”agingcare.com
There’s a reason why medical personnel and physicians are not technically allowed to treat relatives and friends. It’s because they are too closely involved emotionally and historically with that person.
Those factors cloud their judgment and reasoning. It’s only human nature.
So, for the sake of your aging parent, I ask you put together a family meeting to discuss the issues and/or problems your parent may be having which would indicate that they should no longer be living alone.
Then ask a third party to help you look at the situation through their unbiased eyes.
What Do You Do When Your Elderly Parent Can’t Live Alone?
If the conclusion is made that a senior person is no longer safe or capable of living alone, there are multiple options available for aging parents and their families and caregivers.
Some things to consider are…
- An assisted living or co-housing type of facility where a support system is in place
- Hiring a home care service or a private caregiver
- Moving in with an adult child or other family member
- Someone moving in with the elderly parent
- A nursing home facility if it’s necessary
- Consult with a social worker or geriatric care manager
Here are our list of tips for elderly living alone. Caregivers and adult children can use these tips to help make the lives of their senior loved ones as safe as possible.
How Can I Help My Elderly Parents? 11 Key Strategies To Help Your Parents
I am fully aware that offering help to your elderly parent may not be an easy task for you or your parent(s). Believe me, I have experience in this matter.
My mother was a very strong willed and independent woman and getting her to accept help was an uphill battle.
If you are also struggling with this issue, here are 4 strategies that my family used to deal with our difficult mom in her old age.
- Lay down the groundwork early by talking with each other (and our mother) about options that we could use as she grew older.
- We included our mother in as many discussions and decision making processes as we could.
- We went with her to any new doctor, therapy, activity, etc. to help ease her fear of doing something new.
- We accepted the fact that what we could not change was ultimately her decision, her life.
Read more about how we dealt with this issue and how it may help you in your situation.
1) If Your Elderly Parent Frequently Falls
If your parent has fallen once, take it as a serious sign (even though they probably will not think it is serious).
Have them assessed by a physician or better yet, a physical therapist who can give them the STEADI which is a series of balance tests specifically for the geriatric population.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Make sure to talk to your mother or father and stress to them the importance of informing you if and when they fall.
Note: If you don’t trust that your parent will tell you when/if they fall. I would recommend looking into the list of fall detection devices and monitoring devices that are available today.
One we recommend is the Family 1st medical alert. It has a fall detection option that can be added to the device’s subscription plan for around $5.00 per month.
Also, here are few more you can look into:
Also – know that Apple Watch now has a “fall alert” option on their watches.
Besides these techy tools, you can certainly check your parent (as discreetly as possible) for signs of bruises, cuts and scrapes.
Although these don’t always indicate that they have fallen, it does give you cause for suspicion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than one in four older adults falls every year.Byyoursidecare.com
Of course, even if they don’t admit that they have had a fall (my mother did not) and you suspect that there are frequent falls, I would then strongly recommend giving them a medical alert system.
They can wear at all times, even if they are living with a spouse or significant other.
It’s unlikely that these two people will be in the presence of each other every minute of every day. So, a medical alert is just the sensible thing to do.
My mother in law, who is 99 years old and lives alone, uses the Touch N’ Talk Medical Alert. She has been using it for a few years now.
It’s worked out wonderfully to give her the peace of mind that just in case anything were to happen, help is nearby.
Personally, I strongly recommend some type of medical alert device for all elderly people living alone.
2) If Your Parent Is Becoming Reclusive
Familiarity and security are very big issues for the elderly and staying home is sometimes the only way they can achieve that.
The other and more probable factor in older adults becoming reclusive is depression and anxiety.
If you can get your parent to go for a psychological exam to assess whether or not they are suffering from depression and/or anxiety, I strongly recommend that you do that. I know it’s not easy.
My siblings and I dealt with my mother’s denial of her own depression and anxiety for over a decade. All that did was to leave a sour note in our hearts about our mother.
Yes, it made it easier for us when she passed away (emotionally) but we lost more than 10 years of having a good relationship with her – and we will never be able to get that back.
Besides the professional psychological intervention, you can also begin a routine.
An example would be to take them out every Sunday for brunch or you can try to get more visitors to their home. It could be family, friends, neighbors, volunteers (you can check out ElderHelpers.org).
Also, daily phone calls can certainly help not only to make sure that they are okay but it truly gives a lonely senior something to look forward to.
My mother was very private and refused most anyone coming to her home. But, by asking some of our friends to visit every now and then, and with the great help of Hospice social workers and nurses, she ended up having visitors almost every day of the week. This truly resulted in lifting her depression.
(Note: There is a great misunderstanding about Hospice. The thought is that if you call them it means your loved one is dying within a few days.
The truth is, Hospice is palliative care for anyone with a terminal illness. It doesn’t mean they are dying immediately, it simply means they have an illness that cannot be cured.
For my mother and us, her children, we could not have been happier with the love, care and attention we got from that great program. They truly were amazing. )
3) If You Notice Your Parent’s Home Is Unkempt
If your parent isn’t keeping the house as clean and tidy as they did last year, it’s a clear sign that they are having trouble keeping up with home maintenance.
The best solution is to either come in and do the work for them or to hire someone to do it. Of course, the degree of disability will dictate how much you or an aide needs to do.
4) If You Notice A Pile Of Unopened Mail
If you can identify the cause, you may be able to get help for your elderly parent but some issues such as cognitive or sensory decline will require intervention vs. just treatment.
5) If Your Elderly Parents Are Missing Payments And Appointments
Take the time to check the mail your parent is getting.
Late and Final notices are a strong sign that they are not attending to their bills as they should. Don’t wait for the gas, water or electricity to be shut off!
And I’m not saying that you necessarily need to “take over” paying the bills for your parent. That decision depends on how much cognitive impairment is evident in your mother or father.
At the very least, speak with him or her about helping them with the task, working together.
You can even schedule it so that, for example, you could both work on bills and mail every Monday. Put it on the calendar as a reminder.
6) If Your Elderly Parent Is Losing Weight
If an elderly person is losing weight this can raise some concern. It can be a result of one or combination of any of the following:
- Reaction to medication(s)
- Cognitive decline
- Physical problems with swallowing, dentures, loss of smell and/or taste, etc.
- Having difficulty preparing meals (due to physical and/or cognitive issues)
- Medical condition such as GI problems, cancer, etc.
- The natural act of dying
Most medical professionals define unintentional weight loss as a 5% – 10% decrease in body weight over 1 to 12 months, and more specifically, a 5% loss over a 6-month period.Medline Plus
Please seek medical care from your health care providers for help with matters concerning weight loss issues.
But, I do have to say that personally, I have worked with hundreds of elderly in their final months (including relatives). To be truthful with you, nutrition is not on the top of my caregiving list during this time.
I know that for myself, if I was in my final months or years I would like to indulge in my favorite foods as much as I desire.
My point is, speak with your parent’s doctor first and just don’t make THAT big a deal about their nutrition.
Read about High Calorie Foods For The Elderly.
But, if the issue is that it’s difficult for your parent to prepare their meals you will then want to look at what the actual problems are.
- Are they having problems accessing items in the kitchen? If so, check out our tips on how to make the kitchen more senior friendly.
- Are they having physical problems such as standing, bending, endurance issues? Then you will want to have them checked by a physician and possibly get some physical therapy.
- Are they having cognitive problems that keep them from staying on task, remembering how to cook? Again, have them checked by a physician and it may be time to get some more supervised care.
If the issues are more related to physical then I can recommend meal delivery services like Purple Carrot.
They can make it much easier for your parents to get fresh food items into the house and an easier method to prepare their meals.
But if they would prefer (or if it would be better for them) to receive meals that are already put together and all they have to do is heat it up, then take a look at Freshley or Silver Cuisine. These companies offer a nice variety of chef prepared meals.
7) If You Parent Begins Neglecting Their Hygiene
If you notice that your parent is not meeting their daily personal care needs such as personal hygiene, muster up the courage to speak with them and try to find out what the problem is.
If it’s a physical problem that is keeping them from caring for themselves, there may be some tools that you can purchase and/or install to help them.
If it’s a cognitive problem, you will need the help of a physician and either a Cognitive or Occupational therapist to help you.
How To Talk To Your Elderly Parent About Hygiene
What you really want to find out from your parent is what’s keeping them from keeping up with the daily chores to wash themselves, change their clothing and underwear, brushing their teeth, etc.
They may or may not be able to tell you but it’s worth the discussion.
Understand that for your aging mother or father, acknowledging that they may be having a problem with self care can be devastating.
It basically means that they are no longer able to care for themselves and that they will be requiring help from another person.
It’s not only frightening to know that you are losing your independence, it’s also very disturbing to admit that you will, more than likely, from now on need assistance.
It means that you are just that much closer to your final days.
So, be gentle with the conversation. Avoid being accusatory and try not to focus on any level of incompetence.
Keep the conversation focused on the idea of helping them and making things easier for them.
Following are some problems that may be causing the neglect for self care and what can be done to help.
Problem: It’s physically difficult for them to perform any one or all of their daily self care tasks.
Solution: Sometimes tools like sock aids and long reach grabbers can help if mobility is the problem.
Sometimes changing the routine to smaller tasks can help.
For example: my mother suffered from pulmonary fibrosis – she was unable to perform any task that took more than 10 minutes without losing her breath – even with supplemental oxygen.
So, we broke up her daily morning tasks so that she would spend no more than 5 minutes or so on each task and then rested for 10 – 15 minutes in between. It worked very well.
Recognize that if physical factors are impeding – and tools or altering how these tasks are done don’t help – then it may be time to consider having someone (even hiring an aide) help.
Problem: Depression can play a very big role in maintaining personal health.
Solution: This will require the help of a physician or psychiatrist and possible counseling. Don’t ignore your elderly parent’s depression – there are medications that can help them to live their remaining years with much more satisfaction.
Problem: Cognitive decline can easily disconnect your mom or dad from the routines that they’ve been performing for decades.
Solution: Decreased cognition is NOT just memory loss. It’s also loss of rationale, loss of judgment. This is when you may see an elderly person using a toothbrush that is so old it cannot truly be cleaning their teeth. Or when they keep food in their refrigerator or pantry that is years beyond it’s expiration date and worse, eat it!
If you suspect that your aging mother or father is having cognitive problems, don’t expect them to be able to tell you. Get them to a physician where they can order cognitive testing.
A Cognitive therapist or an Occupational therapist will be able to help provide you with some techniques and/or tools to help you and your mom or dad.
8) If Your Parent Is Having Trouble Performing Familiar Tasks
Problems with familiar daily tasks seem to almost always be due to cognitive decline which could be due to either some illness such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It could also be a side effect of some medication.
Either way – the best thing to do here is to see your doctor and get tested or possibly change medications.
9) If Your Elderly Parent Is Getting Lost
There are some things that you can do to help your aging mother or father if they are consistently showing signs of confusion.
- Within their own home – you can certainly put up visual cues such as signs on doors. (i.e. Bathroom on the bathroom door, Master Bedroom on their bedroom door, etc.)
- In someone else’s home – alert the host of your parent’s condition so they don’t leave them alone and just assume that they can find their way to another room in the house and find their way back again.
- When driving – it’s very important to get a doctor’s recommendation on whether or not your parent should continue driving. The last thing anyone wants is for your mother or father to be involved in an auto accident.
The company AAA has a program where they provide professional assessment of driving skills. It’s quite comprehensive and worth a look at.Of course, I know that it can be very difficult for anyone to give up their freedom (i.e. their car and driving). For more information and help on this topic read our article on When Should Seniors Stop Driving?
10) If Your Parent Is Unable To Manage Their Medications
The use of a pillbox to keep track of what medicine to take when can be very handy for anyone, not just seniors. So, I would recommend starting with that.
Just make sure that it is a box that they can open. Oftentimes, with severely arthritic hands, opening some types of containers can be difficult and frustrating.
The trick with managing medications comes when new or different medication is prescribed. You want to make sure that your parent is following the recommendations on the bottle.
I remember sitting in a patient’s team conference with their other therapists and the patient’s physician.
This doctor told me that he asked the patient to read the medicine bottle. Since they were clearly able to do that, he concluded that there was no issue with them being able to follow the instructions on the bottle.
I took that doctor to his patient and asked the patient to read the medicine bottle (which they did very well). Then I asked the patient “What does that mean?”
To the surprise (and probably embarrassment) of the doctor, the patient did not know.
Making mistakes with medications can cause severe problems. So, if your parent is having a problem with this issue, it may be time to begin monitoring and/or dispensing the medication to him/her.
11) If Your Parent Becomes Defensive and Paranoid
If your parent is becoming, or has become defense, paranoid, hostile, etc., please know that I am sorry.
I have dealt with many individuals in this situation and it’s not easy, especially for YOU. The best advice I can give you is…
- know that their outbursts are not directed at you – it’s not personal.
- make sure to step away on a regular basis (every day spend a few hours away) because it can emotionally drain you.
- keep your voice calm and remain calm – that most often helps to diffuse the situation.
- redirect the conversation or situation to something else.
- get help – it’s extremely difficult to deal with someone in this stage alone.
How To Tell A Parent They Can’t Live Alone
The best way to increase the odds of a parent accepting help later in life is by starting conversations about long-term care early on—long before their health and cognitive function start to decline.agingcare.com
Having “the talk” with your mother or father about any issues they may be having and your worries about those issues is difficult, without a doubt.
I know with my own mother, she would just get up and walk away and refused to discuss it.
What helped my siblings and myself was to get her doctors (who she trusted more than us) to speak to her about it.
I would recommend that you try something similar. It can be a doctor, a relative, a friend, etc. It’s certainly worth a shot.
Following are some approaches that may help you when talking to your parent or aging relative about either getting a caregiver or moving to an assisted living facility.
- Don’t spout off facts – instead use stories. Perhaps you know someone (or your parent knows someone) who ended up in an unfortunate situation simply because they were alone. Remind them or tell them of that.
- Target the conversation towards what they want (instead of what YOU think they need). An example is about independence. Everyone wants that. But, if something happens (like a fall or they accidentally set the house on fire) they will lose that independence. So, I would tell my mom something like “What can we do to make sure that you stay as independent as possible?”
- Try to understand that as we all grow older we all experience changes in our brains. That and changes in environmental factors (i.e. housing) can cause severe anxiety.
- Alleviate their fears of going into a nursing home. Again, use stories to tell them how others avoided this by hiring a caregiver to come in and do whatever needs doing.
Note that if the decision has been made that your elderly parent cannot live alone any longer, there are several options available that don’t require moving to an assisted living facility or nursing home.
Recently, there has been a growing trend of “aging in place communities” that are increasing in number around the world. These communities come in a variety of flavors – here’s a list.
- 55 plus communities (the kind most of us associate with senior living – mostly in Florida and Arizona)
- Faith based communities – these are senior care facilities focused on and/or owned by a specific religious faith. You can find a list of them here.
- Village communities – this began in 2001 in Boston and is a grassroots movement that has grown worldwide. Basically, communities establish a membership group to create a “village” and all members of that village work to help each other. Members stay in their own homes but because their village is in their community – they all work together to help each other as needed. You can read more about the Village Movement here.
- Senior co-housing – this type of community can include condos, townhomes and single family homes. Individuals are matched for compatibility and they share a home. There can be private kitchens for each person along with public spaces within the home. But all costs to maintain the home are shared amongst it’s residents.
- All in one retirement communities – this type of community has 3 levels of housing. A resident moves into an independent living apartment in the building and as they age and if it’s needed they can then move into the assisted living building of the community. And if it’s needed at some point they can then move on to the nursing home building. It just depends on what level of care they need at any point in time. Heartis is one such community.
These are just some of the innovative and new types of housing arrangements that are sprouting up around the world.
As the aging population will be increasing from 2020 through to 2030, cities, communities, families and elders are all working together to come up with creative housing options to help seniors who can no longer live alone.
What Do You Do When You Can’t Take Care Of Your Elderly Parents
If you cannot convince your aging parent to move into a retirement community or assisted living or other type of senior housing, you will then need to look for help from your whole family or for services that can help them in their own home.
You may not be aware of the many programs available for the elderly and their caregivers, but they are out there.
Here’s a list of resources you can reach out to for help and/or information.
According to a survey from the AARP, approximately 90% of seniors intend to stay in their current homes for the next five to ten years. Of those that plan on staying in their homes, 85% believe they could do so without making significant modifications to their home. At the same time, many of the survey respondents reported that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to live independently. In fact, only 43% of respondents over 70 found it “very easy” to live independently. Thus, despite the challenges that come with living alone, many seniors still want to live in their homes.Leisurecare.com
- Senior Companions
- Meals On Wheels
- Medicaid will cover non-emergency medical transportation (i.e., visits to doctors for schedule appointments)
- Medicare will cover emergency visits that require 911
- For all other transportation needs Uber and Lyft have been working well –
- There are 3rd party programs like GoGoGrandparent program and GreatCall that are specifically designed for caregivers and seniors.
We know it’s a struggle to care for elderly parents who may fight you on what seems to be such an obvious decision. Most every adult wants complete independence. Hopefully the information we have given you here will help you in some way.
Read about whether social services can remove an elderly person from their home.
Frequently Asked Questions
What percentage of older adults live alone?
In the USA, over 13 million elderly adults are living alone.
According to MerckManuals, “In the US, nearly 29% of the 46 million community-dwelling elderly live alone. About half of the community-dwelling oldest old (≥ 85 yr) live alone. About 70% of elderly people living alone are women, and 46% of all women age ≥ 75 yr live alone. Men are more likely to die before their wives, and widowed or divorced men are more likely to remarry than are widowed or divorced women.”
What to do when a parent can no longer live alone?
When it’s evident that your senior parent cannot live alone any longer your options are basically…
1. get an aide into their home
2. set up a schedule amongst family and friends so that your senior loved one is never alone
3. set up video monitoring throughout the home
arrange to move them into an assisted living or nursing home or possibly a co-housing arrangement
4. have them move in with a family member or vice-versa
How to get help for an elderly person living alone.
There are many organizations, national, state and local that can help you to find an aide or assistance for someone living alone.
But we would recommend to first speak with friends and family members to find out if anyone may be willing or knows of someone who can help your senior loved one.
Is it against the law to leave an elderly person alone?
Basically, if the senior person has the cognitive and physical capability to call 911 in case of an emergency and to care for themselves (i.e. get to the bathroom, change their clothing, etc.) – it’s generally legal to leave them alone.
But we recommend you contact an elder law attorney in your state for details