To many adult children, parents were once the picture of health and independence. As Mom and Dad age, however, their abilities to remain mentally and physically functional wane. Seniors’ physical and cognitive decline lead to families asking questions about whether to leave aging parents at home alone.
Family caregivers must constantly reassess their parents’ health and abilities in order to properly judge whether or not they can remain alone for brief periods. If not, the adult children’s flexibility and freedom will be obstructed, and running errands will require creative strategies to accomplish.
What contributes to dependence?
Incontinence, memory loss, hearing and vision problems and confusion are not normal aspects of aging. A decline in function is often due to treatable conditions. By visiting a geriatrician who specializes in the medical conditions of the elderly, seniors may be able to restore their ability to function independently.
Alzheimer’s disease, too, is not a normal part of aging. As a form of dementia, Alzheimer’s affects a senior’s memory, thinking and behavior. When an elderly parent suffers from dementia, especially in the middle to late stages, the senior is likely to behave in uncharacteristic ways.
An aging parent may no longer be able to safely remain at home for long durations due to a decline in cognitive or physical health. As family caregivers, adult children have the responsibility to evaluate individual scenarios, ask questions, involve the parents and make the right decisions.
Answers to the following questions are helpful in guiding family caregivers in their decisions to leave elderly parents at home alone. Before choosing to leave aging parents alone, remember to regularly re-evaluate current scenarios, as seniors’ health and abilities change over the course of time.
Do the parents recognize their surroundings?
Seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease experience confusion about time and place. Once-familiar surroundings become unfamiliar to the dementia patient. When aging parents live with Alzheimer’s disease, adult children may realize the inherent dangers in leaving them unattended at home.
Elderly individuals without a dementia diagnosis should be aware of their immediate environment, if they are to remain safely at home alone. It is important for them to know the location of doors and how to operate locks, in the event an emergency requires them to exit the building.
Are the parents prone to wandering?
Wandering is another symptom of dementia. Seniors who wander might have difficulty remembering their address and following directions. In worst case scenarios, the seniors will fail to find their way home. Elderly people getting lost is a cause for concern. Preserve their safety by not leaving them alone.
Can the parents identify emergencies?
Aging parents may be left alone if they are able to quickly recognize and respond to emergencies. Smoke from the kitchen and blaring burglar alarms should notify them of potential danger. The seniors should be able to physically reach the phone, call 911 and communicate the emergency.
However, when aging parents’ cognitive abilities are in decline, thinking and judgment skills are affected. The seniors may fail to exit the home in time, which can jeopardize their safety. Similarly, seniors with a lack of judgment may allow strangers into the home—but not emergency personnel.
Do the parents make reasonable decisions?
Dementia robs seniors of their ability to reason. Judgment is affected, and rash decisions are an inevitable outcome. For such seniors, being left alone allows them to become prey to financial scams, either over the phone or in-person. Caregivers in the home, however, prevent exploitation.
Are the parents in good physical health?
The elderly population has a high risk for falls, slips and injuries. Accidents can result in infections, broken bones and even death. Evaluate the parents’ abilities to be mobile and walk independently. If Mom or Dad has fallen once or more within a year, reconsider leaving them alone at home.
Can the seniors handle the ADLs?
Independently handling the activities of daily living (ADLs) is necessary if seniors are to be safely left alone. Incontinence issues plague many seniors. When elderly individuals are left by themselves, alternative solutions should be in place so that they can reach the bathroom or commode in time.
Evaluate the parents’ abilities to prepare meals on their own. If the parents are hungry, do they have the physical ability to cook a meal? The seniors should remember to turn off a hot stove to prevent a fire. Memory issues should be carefully considered for safety reasons.
Do the parents fear being alone?
When seniors are struck with fear at the thought of being alone, it is a sign that they are unable to handle unanticipated emergencies while the family caregiver is away. The parents may resort to clinginess or making frequent phone calls when the adult child is out of the home.
Family caregivers who assume their elderly parents may be safely left alone at home should pay closer attention to their loved ones’ desires. When permitting the seniors to remain alone is not an option, family members have reliable support from home care agencies, like Assisting Hands Home Care.
Assisting Hands Home Care providers assist the elderly with the activities of daily living, like bathing, grooming and toileting. If your parents wander, our memory care providers will gently guide them home. We also prepare meals, shop for groceries and provide seniors with safe transportation.
Professional caregivers are the answer to seniors who are alone and lonely. Our companion caregivers take a hands-on approach to ensure that senior care recipients have pleasant company and stay mentally stimulated throughout our stay. We play games, converse and accompany them on walks.
When your loved one can no longer remain at home alone, turn to the dedicated caregivers at Assisting Hands Home Care. Our friendly representative will tailor an individual care plan to meet their care needs. We are committed to providing compassionate elder care to the senior population in Lombard, Villa Park, Elmhurst and surrounding areas in Illinois.