When Should Someone with Dementia Stop Living Alone?
People study and work the bulk of their lives so that they can retire without worrying about the future. They hope that all their hard work will allow them to become completely independent, but unfortunately, conditions such as dementia can rob people of that opportunity.
Dementia is a cruel syndrome that can ravage the minds of those it affects. The symptoms of it can have ripple effects that turn a once healthy and vibrant senior citizen into someone who needs to be cared for and watched over constantly.
Understandably, having this kind of conversation with your parents, grandparents, or other relatives is not easy, but it may be necessary.
This article will highlight the different telltale signs that a person with dementia is no longer capable of living alone. Please go ahead and read on so that you can act before it’s too late.
The Symptoms of Dementia
To better understand why living alone can be a risky proposition for individuals dealing with dementia, it helps to become familiar with the symptoms and effects of having this condition.
Dementia does not have any visible physical symptoms per se, but the effect it has on a person’s mind can be so severe that it alters their physical condition.
First off, it’s worth noting that dementia can closely resemble normal aging. That is especially the case early on.
As people age, they naturally become more forgetful, and they may also not think and react as quickly. Those changes are natural. However, if a person has dementia, those changes can be accelerated and become more pronounced.
The deterioration of an affected person’s mind can also manifest itself in other ways.
Listed below are some specific symptoms of dementia to look out for.
Forgetfulness can vary in terms of how pervasive it is in individuals with dementia. Early on, the type of forgetfulness people experience may be similar to the one that accompanies aging. Later on, though, the forgetfulness caused by the syndrome can have more drastic effects on their lives.
Someone living with this condition may start to forget basic things such as the names of their family members, and they may even have trouble recognizing a person who they should know.
The symptom of forgetfulness can also disrupt a person’s life by ruining their established routines.
Losing Track of Time and One’s Location
Another symptom of dementia that can prove challenging to deal with is one related to a person’s sense of time and direction. If you have this syndrome, you may find it more difficult to keep track of time and your location. Even though you’re in a place you frequently visit such as your favorite restaurant, you may occasionally lose track of where you need to go because of your dementia.
Once the symptoms worsen, affected individuals may encounter difficulty simply getting around their neighborhoods and homes.
Struggling with Communication
Dementia can also affect how a person communicates with others.
After having an eventful day, your older loved one may want to tell a story about what happened but struggle to do so because of their condition. Furthermore, they may also have a hard time communicating things they want or problems they have encountered.
Inability to Perform Certain Physical Tasks
At some point, performing household tasks may also become difficult for people with dementia.
It may start with them having trouble cleaning around the house or cooking. Eventually, though, dementia can also render senior citizens unable to perform self-care tasks such as bathing and eating.
Moving around may also become a problem as the syndrome continues to worsen.
In addition to the concerning symptoms mentioned above, dementia can have a psychological impact on an affected individual too.
The psychological changes brought about by dementia can lead a person’s personality to change. Their behavior may become more unpredictable, leading to more outbursts taking place.
Anxiety, depression, and paranoia are all symptoms of dementia. Emotional changes may start to emerge too.
Why a Loved One with Advanced Dementia Should Not Live Alone
It’s important to note that not everyone with dementia becomes automatically incapable of living alone. The early onset of the syndrome brings about relatively manageable symptoms – the kind that a senior citizen should be able to deal with on his/her own, especially if precautions are put into place first.
Sadly, dementia does not tend to remain static.
It can progress in stages, with its symptoms getting worse as time goes on.
Even someone who can manage the symptoms quite well at first may start to struggle eventually. That is when things become concerning.
If a person with dementia is still living on their own as the symptoms worsen, they could soon find themselves in dangerous situations.
They could get lost in a crowded place and have a hard time returning home, or they may forget they left the stove on after cooking, thus leading to a fire. Accidents can happen easily if a person with dementia is living alone.
The symptoms of dementia can contribute to an early passing. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive when caring for dementia patients.
How to Care for Dementia Patients
When the symptoms of dementia have progressed to the point that they are affecting your loved one’s quality of life, allowing them to continue living alone is not an option any longer.
Ask your older loved one to come live with you or entrust them into the care of a well-regarded assisted living facility to put your mind at ease.
Of course, convincing your loved one to check into an assisted living facility is no easy feat. They may be resistant to the idea and insist they can take care of themselves. Even you may not be completely convinced that they need to be cared for 24/7.
If that’s the case, you may want to keep an eye out for the signs indicating that someone with dementia is no longer capable of living alone. Certain conditions may also make them a candidate for an assisted living facility, so keep an eye out for those as well.
The Signs and Conditions to Watch For
Your Loved One Has No Neighbors
Leaving someone with dementia alone for an extended period of time is never a good idea. Unfortunately, keeping in touch with them constantly may be hard to do if they don’t know how to use smartphones or other devices that can aid with communication.
That kind of living situation for your loved one may be acceptable if he/she has a neighbor you can check in with regularly, but if they are alone in an isolated area, it may be time to move them out.
Your Loved One Already Has a Pre-Existing Injury or Serious Disease
Sometimes, you do not have a choice when it comes to entrusting your loved one to the care of an assisted living facility. This is the case if your older relative is already living with an injury or a serious disease.
Those conditions are hard enough to deal with. The scary thing is that they can be complicated further by the onset of dementia. Allowing your loved one to live alone in a scenario such as that is not an option to consider.
Your Loved One’s Home Is Not Safe
Once a professional diagnosis your older relative with dementia, you should take it upon yourself to visit their home. Along with checking on your relative, you should also use that time to inspect his/her home.
Many older folks tend to live in similarly older homes. Some parts of that home may have fallen into disrepair over the years, and they may no longer be as safe as they used to be.
Considering the symptoms that typically accompany a dementia diagnosis, allowing someone with the condition to live in a home lacking in safety features is unacceptable.
Your Loved One’s Home Has Become Disorganized
The condition of your loved one’s home can sometimes tip you off to the severity of their dementia. You may start to notice that things have become disorganized. Plates may be piling up in the kitchen sink, clothes could be scattered everywhere, and generally speaking, the home may look like a mess.
Seeing something like that should trigger alarm bells, especially if you know that your loved one is typically keen on keeping the house clean.
Your Loved One Is Losing or Gaining Weight
Another possible indicator of your older loved one’s current condition is his/her weight. More specifically, changes to your loved one’s weight could tip you off to what’s going on.
Due to forgetfulness brought about by dementia, affected individuals may be unwittingly skipping meals. If that keeps up, your loved one may become noticeably slimmer.
Weight gain is a possible sign that your loved one can no longer live alone as well. He/she may be forgetting meals enjoyed earlier in the day and may be doubling food consumption needlessly.
Your Loved One’s Hygiene Habits Have Suffered
In the grand scheme of things, an older relative no longer being as hygienic as he/she used to be may not seem like a big deal, but that’s often not the reality of the situation. Poor hygiene can lead to health problems, and those may lead to your loved one’s health deteriorating faster.
Because dementia can cause people to lose track of their personal hygiene, you need to take it seriously if your loved one is neglecting it. Take action right away and bring them to your home or seek assistance from a board and care facility.
Your Loved One Is Getting Tired Faster and More Often
One of the less discussed side effects of a dementia diagnosis is what it can do to a person’s sleeping habits. Some senior citizens may experience difficulty sleeping at night, thus causing them to feel exhausted in the morning.
As you can imagine, all kinds of unfortunate incidents can take place if a senior citizen is left home alone while he/she regularly feels tired. He/she may accidentally leave the stove on or perhaps leave a door open.
It would be better to have someone watch over them constantly, so they are free to sleep whenever they need to.
Your Loved One’s Personality Has Changed
After being around someone for so long, you can tell right away when something about them has changed. It may seem like a loved one’s personality changing does not warrant moving them out, but the issue is that the development could be the first of more serious symptoms.
From there, your loved one may also start to become paranoid and even suffer from hallucinations. Needless to say, he/she cannot be left alone once those things start to happen.
Your Loved One Is Calling More Often
Lastly, your loved one may even be the one who subtly lets you know that he/she can no longer live alone. If your loved one is calling more often, that could be a sign that they are feeling isolated and scared in their home.
That could be due to a change in their personality, or it may also be because they no longer feel safe knowing their current condition. Go ahead and take your loved one to an assisted living facility or welcome him/her into your own home so that you address their safety concerns.
Call Bethany Homes Today and Secure Expert Care for Your Loved Ones
Being independent is something most, if not all people, take pride in. The unfortunate reality of life is that dementia can render many folks unable to remain independent.
Thankfully, Bethany Homes can step in and care for your loved ones. Contact them now to guarantee that your loved one receives only the best in terms of senior care.