Can a Person With Alzheimer’s Live Alone?

February 10, 2010 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

No word strikes such fear as the words “cancer” or “Alzheimer’s.” Both of these disease draw a line in the sand–the day before we got the news–and after. Our lives and the lives of our loved ones are irrevocably changed. Our fears leap-frog and we imagine the worst possible scenario. As caregivers, spouses, and adult children, we do the same thing–we hear those awful words, cringe, and then rush ahead.

But the facts are: many types of cancers are now curable, and there are meds for cancer and Alzheimer’s that offer hope, buy us time, and make these two difficult situations more tolerable. While there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s, it doesn’t always happen quickly or with immediate cataclysmic results.

Most people have lived with dementia or Alzheimer’s for months, if not years–undiagnosed. They’ve been driving cars, keeping house, and going on vacation. Were there some slips? Some gaps? Sure, and yes, there will come a time when it’s not safe to live alone, but that might not be today.

The major factors that will determine if they can live alone is understanding how functioning they are and making sure that there’s a very strong  and active support system in place. Without these, it’s just plain unsafe. 

Simple guidelines for Living Alone with Alzheimer’s:

  • Safety first: Do they still understand the basic concepts of safety? Can they manuever in their house? Will they lock themselves out? Do they remember how to call for help?
  • Are they isolated? Does a family member live nearby? Can someone check on them daily? Are there support services such as Meals on Wheels, home help, and transportation services?
  • Can they manage their medications? Will they ask for help if they get confused, or will they try to cover it up?
  • Can they prepare their meals or is there a way to provide their meals? Are cooking fires and spills a concern?

Family, friends, and community support is key, and while your loved one may insist on living “home alone” begin to explore other options. Alzheimer’s and dementia are degenerative–it really doesn’t reverse its course. You may be able to cobble together enough support to keep them at home for a few more month–but there will come a time when it just isn’t safe, manageable, or feasible. At that point, you may have to step up and be the “bad guy,” but making sure they’re safe and cared for is too important to let it slide.

Remain vigilant and brainstorm–is there a family member who needs a place to stay? So many of us have family members who face unemployment and would be a good fit for general upkeep and meals in return for keeping a watchful eye and companionship. There are also small group homes and care facilities right in their community that would allow them to still take part in their local church and other activities they enjoy.

Visit this great resource to gauge whether your loved one can live alone.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , , .

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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