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When Should A Person With Alzheimer's Stop Living Alone?

Get the answers to your questions on people living alone with dementia or Alzheimer's. Seniorly can help you understand and prepare for this transition.

By Seniorly Editor · Updated Sep 10, 2021
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You first notice that they forgot to show up for an appointment. Then a bill goes unpaid. The simplest task like turning on the television eludes your loved one and, after a while, they begin to withdraw from family and friends as once-favorite hobbies, sports, and social activities become more difficult. These are all potential signs of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. But how do you know when the symptoms are severe enough that your loved one should stop living alone? Is there an exact moment to determine when someone with Alzheimer's should go into senior care?

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. It’s the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans are living with the disease. That number could rise to 16 million by 2050.

While there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, drug and non-drug treatment can alleviate symptoms for better cognitive and behavioral functioning. However, families whose loved ones have been diagnosed understand that symptoms will eventually worsen until full time care is necessary.

How do you know when a loved one has reached the end of an independent lifestyle? Here are four symptoms of dementia that show it’s time to provide assisted living, whether it’s in your own home or in a long-term care facility.

Changes in everyday functioning

The most common tell-tale signs of dementia include drastic changes in everyday functioning. Communication in those at risk for Alzheimer's and dementia can reveal a lot about the progression of the disease. For instance, conversations become short or non-existent. You or friends begin receiving calls at odd hours. You notice they find it difficult to search for the right words or use familiar words repeatedly or begin using gestures rather than verbal expression.

Changes in self-care

Is your loved one struggling to keep up with proper personal care? Are they not remembering to bathe themselves regularly? Is there unexplained weight loss or gain? This may indicate that they have forgotten to eat or forget they already ate and are constantly feeding themselves. Are they dressing appropriately for the weather and getting a proper night’s sleep? Confusing the hours of the day can be symptomatic of what’s called, “sundowning,” and tends to fuel unhealthy isolation.

Changes in their home environment

Here is a checklist of a few things to look out for in the home of a person with Alzheimer's:

  • The thermostat

Some Alzheimer’s and dementia patients experience symptoms suggesting an altered processing of pain and temperature while others experience a drop in their body temperature. This will often be reflected in how your loved one uses the thermostat or other home-comfort devices.

  • The kitchen

Is it unkempt or does it have an unpleasant smell?  Is the refrigerator full of expired or spoiled food, or even completely empty? Do you see any melted pots or pans with burned bottoms? Not only are these examples unsanitary, they are warning signs of potentially dangerous or life-threatening instances.

  • The floors

Are there spills or other big messes that haven't been cleaned up?

  • The mail

Are there piles of unopened mail or untouched newspapers? Unopened bills and notices can have a more significant impact when services begin shutting off due to non-payment.

Increasing wandering

Wandering is a very common, but frightening occurrence at certain stages of Alzheimer's disease. Six out of ten people with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia can forget their name or address, and can easily become disoriented, even in familiar places. But, by creating a daily plan and monitoring their whereabouts, you can better control and protect your loved one from wandering and getting lost.

What do you do when the above symptoms of dementia point towards a loss of independence? No solution is one-size-fits-all. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, families can decide between several care options that fit their lifestyle and needs. While many people care for their family members at home, there are reputable services that offer a blend of at-home care and a day-care type settings to keep them engaged while their full-time caregivers work or raise a family. Another option many families utilize is moving their loved one to a nearby assisted living or memory care facility. For more information on this subject, visit our pages on assisted living and memory care communities.

 

About the author, Leyla Gulen

Leyla is a graduate of the University of Southern California's Annenberg School with a bachelor's degree in Print Journalism. She’s worked in print, radio, and television as a reporter and anchor in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Charleston, South Carolina. In her spare time, her passion is to travel and explore different cultures.

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