Text Size Normal Text Sizing Button Medium Text Sizing Button Large Text Sizing Button Text Contrast Normal Contrast Button Reverse Contrast ButtonSwitch to Spanish Language Press Room Contact Us Sitemap Sign In Register
Link to Homepage About BrightFocus
BrightFocus
Donate Now Get Involved  
Alzheimer's Disease Research Macular Degeneration Research National Glaucoma Research


Stay Informed: Medical and Research Updates
Connect With Us!
 

 

When a Parent Lives Alone and Has Alzheimer's:
It Takes a Village

Daughter Visiting Her MomThere are more than 5 million people in the U.S. with Alzheimer’s disease. An estimated 800,0001 of those live alone. A person with Alzheimer’s who lives alone is at increased risk of:

  • falling
  • wandering away from home
  • accidental death
  • driving
  • untreated medical conditions
  • poor hygiene
  • isolation and loneliness.

If you’ve ever tried to try convince someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia to move from their home, you know it's difficult. A common question that often arises is, “Would it be safe to have my parent remain in their home, at least for a while?” 
The answer? It depends.

It depends on:

  • The stage of the disease, and
  • Safety precautions in the home

Because abilities decrease over time, so does the ability to live alone. This is where knowledge of risks can help us understand when they’ve become too great. What steps can we take to help a loved one stay safely at home for a longer time

Let’s look at each of the above safety issues for ideas.

Falls

When looking at the home environment to eliminate fall risks, look for potential tripping hazards, such as area rugs, clutter on the floor, electrical cords, etc. Introduce assistive devices, such as a cane, walker or wheelchair, where needed; ensure walkways are well lit; install grab bars in the bathroom and safety handrails on stairways. Physical and occupational therapists are available to consult on safety in the home, as well as when introducing assistive devices. Ask your parent’s primary care physician for a referral for a home safety evaluation.

Driving

Are you concerned about a parent continuing to drive? Driving evaluations are one way to resolve that question. Driving evaluations are conducted at local hospitals, the DMV, rehabilitation hospitals, and some private occupational practices. The American Occupational Therapy Association has a good resource for finding a driving evaluation specialist.

Wandering

Because a person with Alzheimer’s can become disoriented or confused, and wander at any stage of the disease, consider one of the following products to help locate them in the event they wander:

  • GPS devices such as shoes, watches, necklaces and ankle bracelets
  • Website location-based mapping services
  • ID jewelry

Medication Management and Untreated Medical Conditions

It is possible early in the disease to manage medications with just a weekly pillbox that a family member fills and checks regularly.  Another method often employed is daily calls with medication reminders. Eventually, it will be necessary for medications to be administered directly by a family member or other caregiver. Your parent’s health, too, needs to be monitored, as they are at risk of not following up with physicians, or being unaware of new symptoms needing medical attention.

Isolation/Loneliness

This issue too can be managed from a home setting, but will take the support of others to keep your loved one socially engaged.  Community resources for socialization include churches, community centers, senior centers and adult day centers. Depending on the stage of the disease, consider a local gym, fitness center or walking club membership.

Self-Care

Personal hygiene (bathing, dressing, foot care for diabetics, dental care), may require the support of family or a caregiver. Household tasks include cooking and food preparation, shopping, housekeeping and pet care. There are ways to manage this care—through the services of a Geriatric Care Manager or by building a team of family and friends to assist. If friends and family are the care team, be sure to monitor their ongoing ability to provide care.

Additional Resources to Help a Loved One at Home

Here are some additional online resources:

It Does Take a Village

Whether a loved one lives alone at home, at home with a caregiver, or in a care setting with assistance, it will always take the ongoing monitoring by family or caregivers to address new concerns. When in doubt about what steps to take, enlist the services of a professional in the field to help you sort out your options. Ultimately, your loved one’s well-being is most important.

 

References

1.

2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures

Kathleen S. Allen, LCSW, LICSW, C-ASWCM
Eldercare Consultant/Geriatric Care Manager
Senior Care Management Services, LLC

Posted: August2014

 




comments powered by Disqus


The information provided here is a public service of the BrightFocus Foundation and should not in any way substitute for personalized advice of a qualified healthcare professional; it is not intended to constitute medical advice. Please consult your physician for personalized medical advice. BrightFocus Foundation does not endorse any medical product or therapy. All medications and supplements should only be taken under medical supervision. Also, although we make every effort to keep the medical information on our website updated, we cannot guarantee that the posted information reflects the most up-to-date research.

These articles do not imply an endorsement of BrightFocus by the author or their institution, nor do they imply an endorsement of the institution or author by BrightFocus.

Some of the content may be adapted from other sources, which will be clearly identified within the article.

Last Review: 08/01/14


Shop for a Cause YouTube Twitter Connect With Us Pinterest Google+