Warning Signs That Aging Parents Shouldn’t Live Alone

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Your elderly parents might say you worry too much when you express concern about their safety. But your feelings may well be justified. Did you know that burns, falls, and poisonings are common accidents among the elderly? If your elderly parent isn’t in strong enough physical or mental condition, they could easily end up hurt. 

Interested in how to know when an elderly person can’t live alone? We discuss some of the most common signs that indicate that aging adults shouldn’t live alone.

15 Signs That Your Elderly Parents Should No Longer Live Alone

Many older adults are unaware of their own conditions and limitations. Even very frail seniors may believe that they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. They may also resist what they see as unwanted interference from their families. 

You need to know the specific signs to consider when learning how to know when an elderly person can’t live alone. Check out these warning signs.

1. Decline in Proper Hygiene and Self-Care

A decline in proper hygiene and overall self-care are some of the most obvious signs that your parents shouldn’t live alone. If you notice your parents aren’t brushing their teeth or bathing as often as they should, you should be concerned. Not practicing proper hygiene could be a sign of a physical impairment, depression, or even dementia

Have you noticed that your parents aren’t doing the simple housework or maintenance? Not only is this a telltale sign, but can result in a dangerous situation. When it comes to cooking, the chance of a fire can increase if your parent forgets when the stove is on. 

2. Your Parent Has Lost Weight Without Dieting 

Has your aging parent lost weight without dieting or didn’t need to lose weight? Sudden or unexplained weight loss could be a result of loss of smell or taste or problems preparing food. They could also be having issues shopping for food or have an underlying condition, such as cancer, depression, or dementia. 

Forgetting to eat may be a sign of Alzheimer’s. People with this disease may think they have already eaten and accidentally skip meals. If you think an elderly parent might have Alzheimer’s, don’t delay in making an appointment with their doctor. If they have any symptoms that resemble Alzheimer’s, they probably shouldn’t live alone. 

3. Hazards in the Home

Are there any features of your parents’ home that could be dangerous for an elderly person? Examples may include a steep staircase or situations that may lead to your parents standing on a stool or ladder. 

Are there any high cabinets in the kitchen where your parents keep food? Your elderly parents shouldn’t need to get on stools or ladders, as they could risk a fall. 

You should make some home improvement for them such as installing a stairlift or buying a grabber tool or hire a caregiver if you don’t have enough time.

4. Your Aging Parent Has Fallen More Than Once

Elderly parents fall at home

If your parents have had any recent falls in their home, that could be a sign of danger. Falls can be extremely dangerous for elderly people and can easily lead to fractures and breaks. These kinds of injuries can end up being fatal in some situations. 

5. Your Parents Have Become More Socially Isolated 

If your parents used to be social and they’ve lost interest in meeting up with friends or chatting to them on the phone, this could be a sign of depression or other issues. 

Find out if your parents are taking part in their favorite activities and find out ways they can reconnect. If your parents still show little or no interest in what they once loved, they may have problems that mean they shouldn’t live alone. 

6. You Notice Clear Signs of Memory Loss 

While mild memory issues can be common with aging (it can also be a side effect of some medications), severe memory loss problems are a sign of problems. If your parents have serious memory problems, this could put them in dangerous situations. Some signs of a severe memory loss problem include: 

  • Confusion about places and people, as well as the time
  • Inability to understand and follow instructions
  • Getting disoriented in familiar settings
  • Asking the same questions repeatedly 

7. Increase in Mobility Issues

Watch closely as your parents walk. Are unwilling or unable to walk distances that they used to without any issue? Do you think they might benefit from using a walker or cane? Make sure they have what they need. 

Your parents may have serious joint pain, muscle weakness, or another condition that affects mobility. When the elderly struggle with walking, they are more likely to fall. As we mentioned earlier, falls are extremely dangerous for the elderly. 

8. You Notice Mood Changes 

Depression in elderly
Depression in elderly

Ask your parents how they feel emotionally and watch their moods. If you notice dramatic mood changes or depression, this is a problem that must be addressed. 

Depression always needs to be taken seriously, no matter someone’s age. Depression is an alarmingly common problem in the elderly. If you think your parents seem depressed, this needs to be addressed. Depression can mean that your parents won’t take care of themselves. They may not eat nutritious food or keep themselves safe.       

9. The Home Is Cluttered or You See Signs of Hoarding

Hoarding is when someone collects large amounts of unnecessary items in their house for psychological reasons. When there is too much clutter in a space, it can mean that there are other problems. 

Also, all of the clutter can cause significant dangers for your aging parents. It can stop them from practicing proper hygiene and can increase the risk of falling. It may also attract pests (such as mice and rats) that can carry disease. 

10. Not Dressing Properly for the Seasons 

Your aging parents may have difficulty feeling the accurate temperature outside. For example, they may have trouble sensing cold temperatures. This can get dangerous quickly and put the elderly at risk of hypothermia in some circumstances. 

The danger can be compounded if your parents have problems with communication or get disoriented or lost. Elderly people with dementia or other kinds of mental conditions are more at risk of dangerous situations involving weather and unsafe temperatures.

11. The Stove Is Frequently Left On

There are few experiences as alarming as seeing an elderly parent narrowly miss a fire with something they forgot on the stove. If you hadn’t been there, what would have happened? 

Seniors who may have Alzheimer’s are especially at risk for accidentally starting fires. If they find themselves in a fire, there is also an extra danger. They will probably become confused and disoriented, making escape difficult or impossible. 

12. Your Parent Forgets To Take Medications

A caregiver is helping an older adults take medicine
A caregiver is helping an older adults take medicine

Elderly people with declining memory and cognitive capabilities or dementia may forget to take their medications. Depending on what kinds of medications they need to take, this could result in illness or death. 

The elderly failing to take their medication as prescribed is much more common than you might think. Studies estimate that the percentage of seniors not taking their medications as instructed may range from  40 percent to even perhaps 75 percent of seniors. 

13. Increased Confusion

Confusion is a common sign of dementia in the elderly. If your parents seem confused or disoriented in situations that didn’t phase them in the past, there may well be a problem. What seems like momentary confusion or disorientation can lead to dangerous situations, even within the home. 

14. Refusing Medical Attention

Have your parents been ill or injured and resisted getting medical help? This may indicate confusion, disorientation, or general resistance to seeing the doctor. This could end up in danger for your parents if they are ever sick or injured and they live on their own.  

If your parents have dementia, they won’t be able to decide on their own when they need medical help. This is one reason why elderly people with dementia can end up in danger if they live alone. 

15. Your Parent Isn’t Staying Properly Hydrated 

Determining when should the elderly not live alone isn’t always easy but when your parents fail to drink enough water each day, it can be a sign that they aren’t alert enough to take care of themselves on their own. 

Dehydration can be a serious situation, especially for the elderly and people with medical conditions. Your parents should be aware when they are thirsty and need water. 

Elderly people have a higher risk of ending up with dehydration. Sign of dehydration may include: 

  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Less frequent urination
  • Inadequate tear production
  • Dry skin
  • Greater thirst 

Signs of severe dehydration may include: 

  • An extended period of diarrhea (for example, 24 hours or more)
  • Problems sleeping or staying active
  • Disorientation or irritability
  • Trouble holding down fluids
  • Black or bloody stool 

If you feel your parent has severe dehydration, you must get them immediate medical attention. 

Final Thoughts on Aging Parents Living Alone

Learning how to know when an elderly person can’t live alone can take some time and is often more complicated when it affects one or both of your parents. 

Did you enjoy this article and find it informative? Remember all the tips on this list and watch out for signs that your elderly parents shouldn’t live alone. Remember to say what you think in the comment below and share this article if you liked it.

Your elderly parents might say you worry too much when you express concern about their safety. But your feelings may well be justified. Did you know that burns, falls, and poisonings are common accidents among the elderly? If your elderly parent isn’t in strong enough physical or mental condition, they could easily end up hurt. 

Interested in how to know when an elderly person can’t live alone? We discuss some of the most common signs that indicate that aging adults shouldn’t live alone.

15 Signs That Your Elderly Parents Should No Longer Live Alone

Many older adults are unaware of their own condition and limitations. Even very frail seniors may believe that they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. They may also resist what they see as unwanted interference from their families. 

You need to know the specific signs to consider when learning how to know when an elderly person can’t live alone. Check out these warning signs.

1. Decline in Proper Hygiene and Self-Care

A decline in proper hygiene and overall self-care are some of the most obvious signs that your parents shouldn’t live alone. If you notice your parents aren’t brushing their teeth or bathing as often as they should, you should be concerned. Not practicing proper hygiene could be a sign of a physical impairment, depression, or even dementia

Have you noticed that your parents aren’t doing the simple housework or maintenance? Not only is this a telltale sign, but can result in a dangerous situation. When it comes to cooking, the chance of a fire can increase if your parent forgets when the stove is on. 

2. Your Parent Has Lost Weight Without Dieting 

Has your aging parent lost weight without dieting or didn’t need to lose weight? Sudden or unexplained weight loss could be a result of loss of smell or taste or problems preparing food. They could also be having issues shopping for food or have an underlying condition, such as cancer, depression, or dementia. 

Forgetting to eat may be a sign of Alzheimer’s. People with this disease may think they have already eaten and accidentally skip meals. If you think an elderly parent might have Alzheimer’s, don’t delay in making an appointment with their doctor. If they have any symptoms that resemble Alzheimer’s, they probably shouldn’t live alone. 

3. Hazards in the Home

Are there any features of your parents’ home that could be dangerous for an elderly person? Examples may include a steep staircase or situations that may lead to your parents standing on a stool or ladder. 

Are there any high cabinets in the kitchen where your parents keep food? Your elderly parents shouldn’t need to get on stools or ladders, as they could risk a fall. 

4. Your Aging Parent Has Fallen More Than Once

If your parents have had any recent falls in their home, that could be a sign of danger. Falls can be extremely dangerous for elderly people and can easily lead to fractures and breaks. These kinds of injuries can end up being fatal in some situations. 

5. Your Parents Have Become More Socially Isolated 

If your parents used to be social and they’ve lost interest in meeting up with friends or chatting to them on the phone, this could be a sign of depression or other issues. 

Find out if your parents are taking part in their favorite activities and find out ways they can reconnect. If your parents still show little or no interest in what they once loved, they may have problems that mean they shouldn’t live alone. 

6. You Notice Clear Signs of Memory Loss 

While mild memory issues can be common with aging (it can also be a side effect of some medications), severe memory loss problems are a sign of problems. If your parents have serious memory problems, this could put them in dangerous situations. Some signs of a severe memory loss problem include: 

  • Confusion about places and people, as well as the time
  • Inability to understand and follow instructions
  • Getting disoriented in familiar settings
  • Asking the same questions repeatedly 

7. Increase in Mobility Issues

Watch closely as your parents walk. Are unwilling or unable to walk distances that they used to without any issue? Do you think they might benefit from using a walker or cane? Make sure they have what they need. 

Your parents may have serious joint pain, muscle weakness, or another condition that affects mobility. When the elderly struggle with walking, they are more likely to fall. As we mentioned earlier, falls are extremely dangerous for the elderly. 

8. You Notice Mood Changes 

Ask your parents how they feel emotionally and watch their moods. If you notice dramatic mood changes or depression, this is a problem that must be addressed. 

Depression always needs to be taken seriously, no matter what someone’s age. Depression is an alarmingly common problem in the elderly. If you think your parents seem depressed, this needs to be addressed. Depression can mean that your parents won’t take care of themselves. They may not eat nutritious food or keep themselves safe.       

9. The Home Is Cluttered or You See Signs of Hoarding

Hoarding is when someone collects large amounts of unnecessary items in their house for psychological reasons. When there is too much clutter in a space, it can mean that there are other problems. 

Also, all of the clutter can cause significant dangers for your aging parents. It can stop them from practicing proper hygiene and can increase the risk of falling. It may also attract pests (such as mice and rats) that can carry disease. 

10. Not Dressing Properly for the Seasons 

Your aging parents may have difficulty feeling the accurate temperature outside. For example, they may have trouble sensing cold temperatures. This can get dangerous quickly and put the elderly at risk of hypothermia in some circumstances. 

The danger can be compounded if your parents have problems with communication or get disoriented or lost. Elderly people with dementia or other kinds of mental conditions are more at risk of dangerous situations involving weather and unsafe temperatures.

11. The Stove Is Frequently Left On

There are few experiences as alarming as seeing an elderly parent narrowly miss a fire with something they forgot on the stove. If you hadn’t been there, what would have happened? 

Seniors who may have Alzheimer’s are especially at risk for accidentally starting fires. If they find themselves in a fire, there is also an extra danger. They will probably become confused and disoriented, making escape difficult or impossible. 

12. Your Parent Forgets To Take Medications

Elderly people with declining memory and cognitive capabilities or dementia may forget to take their medications. Depending on what kinds of medications they need to take, this could result in illness or death. 

The elderly failing to take their medication as prescribed is much more common than you might think. Studies estimate that the percentage of seniors not taking their medications as instructed may range from  40 percent to even perhaps 75 percent of seniors. 

13. Increased Confusion

Confusion is a common sign of dementia in the elderly. If your parents seem confused or disoriented in situations that didn’t phase them in the past, there may well be a problem. What seems like momentary confusion or disorientation can lead to dangerous situations, even within the home. 

14. Refusing Medical Attention

Have your parents been ill or injured and resisted getting medical help? This may indicate confusion, disorientation, or general resistance to seeing the doctor. This could end up in danger for your parents if they are ever sick or injured and they live on their own.  

If your parents have dementia, they won’t be able to decide on their own when they need medical help. This is one reason why elderly people with dementia can end up in danger if they live alone. 

15. Your Parent Isn’t Staying Properly Hydrated 

Determining when should the elderly not live alone isn’t always easy but when your parents fail to drink enough water each day, it can be a sign that they aren’t alert enough to take care of themselves on their own. 

Dehydration can be a serious situation, especially for the elderly and people with medical conditions. Your parents should be aware when they are thirsty and need water. 

Elderly people have a higher risk of ending up with dehydration. Sign of dehydration may include: 

  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Less frequent urination
  • Inadequate tear production
  • Dry skin
  • Greater thirst 

Signs of severe dehydration may include: 

  • An extended period of diarrhea (for example, 24 hours or more)
  • Problems sleeping or staying active
  • Disorientation or irritability
  • Trouble holding down fluids
  • Black or bloody stool 

If you feel your parent has severe dehydration, you must get them immediate medical attention. 

Final Thoughts on Aging Parents Living Alone

Learning how to know when an elderly person can’t live alone can take some time and is often more complicated when it affects one or both of your parents. 

Did you enjoy this article and find it informative? Remember all the tips on this list and watch out for signs that your elderly parents shouldn’t live alone.

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Tina Miao was a doctor for years and then became a government officer who was responsible for health policies. She likes to review products and has a lot of insights into senior living and health-related problems.

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