There will likely come a time in which you have to make the difficult decision to move your parent, spouse, or another family member into an assisted living or nursing home or let them remain in their home alone. When moving your loved one in with you isn’t an option, it can be hard to know whether your loved one is capable of safely living on their own.
The looming risk of a fall or unexpected health emergency like a stroke or heart attack will always be there. To complicate things even more, few seniors are excited about the prospect of moving out of their home and into a nursing home.
So, how can you know if your loved one is stable enough to live on their own?
The key to answering this question is balancing safety and preferences. Obviously, you’ll want to make sure your loved one is living in a safe environment, but you also want to ensure their wishes and preferences are taken into account. There are four factors to consider when balancing safety and preference.
Do they remember to take all their medication every day? Are they remembering to eat and drink on a regular basis? Have they gotten up from bed to use the bathroom and forgotten how to get back to bed? Do they still recognize family members and old friends? Memory tends to fade gradually, so it won’t be a sudden switch. Keep an eye on their memory to make sure they can still adequately take care of themselves.
Sometimes elderly people fall asleep without intending to, and this isn’t a problem in most situations. However, if they fall asleep with the stove on or with a lit cigarette in hand, it can be very dangerous. An occasional accidental snooze while watching the game doesn’t need to sound any alarms, but you’ll need to pay closer attention as this habit becomes more frequent.
This is a caregiver’s worst nightmare. Elderly people can become prone to falls and they can spend hours on the floor if they live alone. Getting a Life Alert necklace or similar emergency product can be a happy medium for a while, but onsite help will eventually be required if falls continue.
One factor that is frequently overlooked, is the loved one’s willingness and ability to call when they need help. If they are not willing or able to call you when they need help with something, and tend to stretch the bounds of their independence, they can put themselves in precarious situations. The difficult part is that people who fall in this category tend to be the most resistant to moving, but you have to do what’s best for their safety.