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When Should an Elderly Parent Stop Living by Themselves?

an elderly man eating alone at the dining room table

For the majority of your life, your parent has been the single foremost authority on anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to know. You’ve learned through the years to come to depend and rely on your parent for love, comfort, advice, knowledge, and experience, therefore it becomes difficult to admit when your loved one goes from being independent and strong to someone who needs help to doing even the simplest tasks.

If you are stressed or worried about the decision that your parent needs help, it is important to understand that you are not alone. The decision to get help can cause families an immense amount of grief since there isn’t an adult son or daughter who wants to admit that their parent is the one who now needs care.

If you are spending inordinate amounts of time driving back and forth between your parent’s home and your own or work just to make sure your parent is eating enough, then a care facility or an in-home provider may be able to help. Here are some signs that your loved one may need more than you can provide on your own.

Safety First!

No matter how healthy and fit you are, we are all prone to trips, slips, and falls. The majority of us are able to simply pick ourselves up and carry on, but for parents who are aging, there is a greater risk of broken bones and fractures because of a loss of bone mass or osteoporosis. Someone who is otherwise healthy may suffer from a serious injury that then presents significant challenges when it comes to healing and continued care.

The homes we live in that have stairs and steps or uneven thresholds can become dangerous when we reach a certain age. If you’re concerned about balance and safety, there are professionals who are able to go through your parent’s house and ensure that it is as safe as possible to prevent falls. Another option is to hire help within the home for a parent who wants to age in place who can help with daily tasks such as safely getting in and out of the bath or cooking.

If your parent is “mostly abled” and wants to live as independently as possible, an assisted living facility can also be an option. These facilities are a nice medium between living alone and having help when they need it in an environment that is safe with less chance of falls.

Dementia or Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, almost 80 percent of dementia cases are due to Alzheimer’s disease. This disease can affect memory, perception and judgments. Over time, this debilitating disease affects our loved one’s ability to speak, make new memories, walk, and even swallow. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s is a progressive and fatal disease, although researchers have made significant progress towards finding new treatments that are able to delay the advance of the disease.

The problem with a parent who is living with Alzheimer’s is that once you get to a point where you feel as if you are able to sufficiently help your loved one handle their disability, their needs tend to increase because of the progressive nature of the disease. This becomes overwhelming and often times professional care facilities are necessary. These facilities are equipped and trained specifically to help residents with Alzheimer’s. If you have a parent who becomes diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, then it will become important to come up with a plan before the disease becomes too much for you to handle on your own.

Watch for Changes in Hygiene or Personality

If your parent suddenly goes from being a neat freak to suddenly living in a mess, or they go from kind and patient to short tempered and rude, then there may be something more going on. No matter if it is simply advanced age or the first signs of dementia, when it comes to your parent, you’ll want to watch out for signs that indicate that they are making decisions that are unsafe.

Your parent should never be left in this type of environment, so if you are noticing signs that your loved one isn’t able or even interested in living with some basic amount of dignity, contentment, or socialization then they may benefit from professional assistance, care, attention and understanding that can only be found in a care facility.

Physical Impairment and Other Diseases

As previously discussed, there are certain diseases that will eventually cause your loved one to lose the ability to care for themselves. If your parent already has a disease that they need to manage on their own such as diabetes, then you’ll want to watch them to ensure that they are doing this.

Many diseases, like Parkinson’s disease, kidney failure, or glaucoma are widespread but have such a slow rate of advancement that it can be difficult for you to see if your parent is starting to need help managing their ailments. Try to look for signs that daily tasks are becoming more difficult, for example, can your parent see the prescriptions they are taking?

Advanced care options can be explored, which include a professional who can visit in the home to help with daily tasks, or a facility that is equipped to specialize in the physical impairment that your parent suffers from.

Time Management

When it comes down to making a decision as to whether your parent needs assistance, the best way to make a decision is to look at your own life responsibilities. Are you juggling children, work, and your parent? There comes a certain point where the demands of caring for your parent can outweigh the financial and emotional resources you have available to you.

The reality is that there comes a time where your parent’s needs may be more than you can handle and it becomes safer for them to be in an environment where you can simply enjoy being with them again, instead of having to constantly worry about the care they need. Don’t forget that Homewatch CareGivers of Annapolis is here for you. It is always a privilege to provide our clients with compassionate and professional assistance. Don’t hesitate to contact us today if you have more questions or keep browsing our website for more information.

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