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Is It OK to Leave an Elderly Person Alone?

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Our needs and capabilities can change over the years. This is perfectly natural; it’s a part of the human experience. However, there are sometimes signs that a loved one is struggling to maintain their independence. It’s crucial to watch out for these signs so you can intervene when needed to get a loved one the care they deserve.

If an elderly loved one is capable of navigating their daily tasks and activities without putting themselves or others at risk, then it’s okay to let them enjoy their independence. However, if they’re at risk of harming themselves or somebody else— due to cognitive impairment, medical issues, or any other factor—it’s time to think about a move to senior living.

How to Tell if a Senior Should Stay Independent

Independence is a crucial part of a person’s quality of life. Autonomy is key; it offers a sense of control and self-esteem, which can play an important role in a person’s mental and physical health.

Aging often brings with it a difference in what that independence may look like. Over the years, a person may no longer be able to safely perform some of their daily tasks. In some cases, this can easily be helped with regular visits from a loved one. In other situations, however, this may be more problematic. There may be a point where living alone at home can be downright dangerous, so it’s crucial to watch out for the signs that a senior in your life is struggling to stay independent.

There are several key factors here:

  • Their ability to perform their daily tasks
  • Their health and mobility
  • Their cognitive abilities
  • Their social life

These can all play a role in whether or not a person should remain independent.

Daily Activities

Start by paying attention to your loved one’s abilities to perform their daily activities. Try to think about the following:

  • Are they able to properly prepare meals and maintain good nutrition?
  • Can they manage housekeeping tasks like cleaning, laundry, and yard work?
  • Do they have trouble managing their finances or paying bills on time?
  • Are they maintaining personal hygiene, such as bathing, dressing, and grooming?
  • Can they drive safely or manage transportation needs for errands and appointments?

If they’re struggling to perform their activities of daily living, it may quickly start to impact their quality of life.

Health and Mobility

Take some time to evaluate your loved one’s health and mobility. Ask the following questions:

  • Have they experienced frequent falls or stumbled more often?
  • Are there any chronic health conditions that need constant monitoring?
  • Do they have difficulty getting up from a seated position or moving around the house?
  • Are they able to navigate stairs safely?
  • Is there noticeable weight loss or gain that might indicate underlying health issues?
  • Are they keeping up with their medication schedules accurately?

If your loved one’s health or safety is at risk, it may be time to explore other options.

Cognitive Abilities

It isn’t just about their physical health. Cognitive capabilities play a big part in a person’s ability to remain independent. Consider these questions:

  • Do they frequently forget appointments or social engagements?
  • Are they able to manage their finances without confusion?
  • Have they exhibited any signs of memory loss or disorientation?
  • Are they capable of making sound decisions for their well-being?
  • Do they get lost in familiar places or misplace items regularly?

If your loved one is struggling with their cognitive abilities, it might be time for professional care.

Social Life

Social interaction plays an important role in mental health and overall happiness. Try to think about the following:

  • Do they seem isolated or lonely?
  • Are they still engaging in activities and hobbies they love?
  • Do they regularly communicate with friends and family?
  • Have they become withdrawn or less interested in social events?

If your loved one is experiencing social isolation or loneliness, it can quickly begin to negatively affect their quality of life. It may be time to consider a move to a more social environment.

What to Do When a Senior Can’t Stay Independent

If it’s no longer ideal for your senior loved one to live independently, it’s time to think about senior living. This may be the answer needed to improve their overall quality of life—it offers a chance to move to an environment tailored to meet their unique needs.

A senior woman and her daughter smiling while talking about a move to senior living.

It is important to note that there isn’t just one type of senior living. There are two key types of long-term senior living:

  • Assisted living
  • Memory care

Assisted Living

Assisted living communities provide a blend of independence and support. In assisted living, your loved one stays autonomous but gets some help with the daily activities that give them difficulty.

Whether they’re struggling to bathe themselves, groom, clean, or cook, assisted living can help. It offers a way for your loved one to stay independent without compromising their dignity or quality of life.

Memory Care

Memory care is an advanced type of long-term care designed to cater to the needs of older adults living with dementia, cognitive decline, and memory impairment. These communities offer a safe and secure living environment, with access to a team of professional caregivers with a wealth of experience in supporting seniors living with cognitive decline.

Is It Time for Senior Living?

At All American Assisted Living at Washington Township, we know how crucial independence can be. That’s why we offer extensive assisted living and memory care support to seniors in need—we can help maintain your loved one’s dignity without compromising their quality of life. Schedule a tour with us today, and let’s help your loved one—together.

Written by kaplan

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