In order for seniors to thrive and enjoy their golden years, maintaining a sense of freedom and independence is critical. Unfortunately, there comes a point when personal safety outweighs these, making it necessary to move in with a family member or into an assisted living facility.
Of course, there usually isn’t a single point that makes the necessary transition obvious. Making it even more difficult, most seniors aren’t excited with the prospect of moving out of their home, so they usually won’t be the one to bring it up.
In the end, it’s often up to family members and friends to recognize the warning signs and gently, respectfully recommend that it’s time to consider a safer living situation. This is also a good time to start planning for long-term care – in Arizona, a program like ALTCS can cover these costs for qualified individuals.
8 Signs it May Be Time to Discuss a New Living Arrangement
To help you understand when it’s time for your loved one to move into an assisted living facility or family member’s home, we’ve put together a list of 8 warning signs to keep an eye out for.
1. Sudden Weight Loss
Proper nutrition is critical for aging seniors, making it a serious concern when an elderly individual quickly loses weight or looks malnourished. These may be signs that the senior isn’t eating properly or is having trouble cooking and shopping for groceries.
2. Financial Troubles
Stacks of unopened mail and unpaid bills are the best indicator of financial troubles. You may be able to assist with these in the short-run, but a long-term inability to stay on top of bills and mail is a red flag that the senior is struggling to manage their day-to-day responsibilities.
3. Ignoring Personal Hygiene
Many seniors struggle to shower and groom themselves, which are two of the primary reasons for assisted living care. It’s easy to spot a loved one who doesn’t shower regularly, but you should also be paying attention to their dental health and how clean their clothing is.
4. Deteriorating Living Conditions
Completing household chores and regular maintenance is a challenge for many seniors. Fortunately it’s relatively easy to bring in help, whether hired or through family and friends.
When outside help isn’t enough to resolve persistently dirty living conditions, it may be time to consider moving into an assisted living facility where the staff handles all regular housekeeping, linen service, and maintenance.
It’s especially important to keep an eye out for deteriorating living conditions that can lead to home safety hazards. If you’re tripping over things in the living room, loose carpeting in the hallway, or due to poor lighting in the garage, chances are the senior will too.
5. Poor Eyesight
Poor eyesight can be troublesome whether you’re in the house or out and about. It may lead to injuries at home, and can lead to serious accidents when poor eyesight and depth perception lead to an auto accident.
6. Medication Management Issues
This is a red flag that can go both ways.
On the one hand, it’s clearly troublesome when a senior isn’t taking their medication, either because they keep forgetting or they simply don’t want to.
On the other hand, aging seniors have a tendency to over-medicate, which is harder to spot but just as dangerous as forgetting their medication. To spot this potential issue, keep an eye on their medicine cabinet and watch for sudden increases or decreases in its contents.
Many aging seniors deal with drowsiness and lack of energy, but it becomes a major issue when they’re too exhausted to get out of bed. This can quickly lead to poor hygiene, malnutrition, and deteriorating living conditions, so it’s important to talk to your loved one about their energy levels and daily activities to assess their mobility.
8. Social Isolation
A healthy social life filled with hobbies, friends, and family is critical to a senior’s mental health and happiness, but it’s hard to fill these needs when they’re exhausted, immobile, and can’t drive. When it’s too much of a chore to get out of the house for social activities, it may benefit the senior’s health to join an active retirement community that offers regular, easily-accessible social events every day.
FAQs about Seniors Who Can’t Live Alone
Q: Can a person with dementia live on their own?
Yes. In fact, many patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease or dementia live alone. It may be necessary to move into an assisted living facility down the road, but diagnosing dementia doesn’t automatically mean the patient can’t live alone.
Q: What percentage of seniors live alone?
According to a recent study, approximately 30% of the 46 million seniors in the United States live alone. Roughly half of seniors age 85 and older live alone, and at least 75% of senior women live alone.
Q: Can you force someone into a nursing home?
The only way someone can place a family member in a nursing home or assisted living facility against their will is by becoming their legal guardian. You’ll need to file a petition for guardianship with the county’s family court, have a medical professional certify that the senior is incapacitated, and successfully argue for guardianship in a hearing.
Guardianship isn’t a one-way process — keep in mind that the senior has the right to present their case against guardianship and prove that they’re not incapacitated. Even if the senior is incapacitated, the court may still appoint an attorney to ensure their rights are protected.
Q: Can family members be held liable for allowing an elderly parent to live alone?
It’s quite rare for a family member to be held liable for an elderly parent who is injured or killed while living alone.
In order for a family member to be held liable, he or she must be a caregiver with direct responsibility for the senior’s health and wellbeing. Furthermore, the caregiver must violate that duty of care by failing to provide necessary care under that obligation.
Additionally, the senior must either be mentally incapacitated or unable to make their own decisions because of undue influence from the caregiver.
What to Do When Elderly Parent Refuses to Move
Independence and self reliance are pivotal for seniors, so you should expect some pushback any time the subject of moving comes up — whether it’s moving in with a family member or into an assisted living facility.
There’s no right answer to this question because every case is unique, but the solution always starts with talking and listening. Explain your concerns in a respectful manner, listen to what your family member has to say, and then do your best to address their concerns.
If the initial conversation doesn’t go well, try waiting a short while before bringing up the subject again. In the meantime, do your own research so that you’re better prepared to address their concerns.
In rare cases where multiple discussions are unsuccessful and it’s clearly unsafe for them to live alone, the last resort is to file a petition for guardianship in family court. This will require certifying the senior as incapacitated, which is no easy task.