Recognizing the signs when seniors shouldn’t be living alone

Giving up independence is one of the most difficult decisions to make. Everyone wants to be independent and determining when it is the right time to seek assistance for an elderly or a senior can be very challenging at times.

There are many warning signs that alert us when a senior shouldn’t be living alone anymore. Sometimes these signs are very clear; however, they are often very subtle and detectable only over a long period of time of close observation. This subtlety often makes it very difficult for the family to make the decision and start the discussion about moving and changing the senior’s independent way of life.

This post will provide some insight to these “warning” signs – which one to look for, which daily tasks and activities and which observation to make that will help you decide if and when a senior shouldn’t be living alone anymore.

  • Mobility – Increasing signs of balance related issues or instability while moving around are a sign as well as this puts the elderly at risk when left alone. Even if the senior is using mobility devices (e.g. walkers, wheelchairs, canes), make sure that they can easily walk without tripping or falling and that they are able to maintain their balance. Note that health issues like osteoporosis, fragile bones or neurological problems (such as Parkinson) affects the overall strength and coordination of the muscles and eventually impact the ability to maintain balance.
  • Cognitive and Physical Conditions – Make sure that the overall physical and cognitive condition of the senior are stable and allows him or her to live independently and in a safe manner. Cognitive abilities like memory (e.g. take medications on time and on right days) and critical senses such as eyesight and hearing are essential for daily chores. Note that some elderly and seniors require special aids (e.g. hearing devices, glasses) which should be taken into consideration (e.g. overall effectiveness, ability to perform maintenance).
  • Daily Errands – seniors should be able to perform their daily errands successfully (e.g. visiting the doctor, the pharmacy, grocery shopping). These activities are important to their overall health and failure to perform them may result in deterioration of their health and physical condition. Note that these activities often require transportation – however, inability to drive should not be considered as a sign that the senior cannot live alone as most seniors use family members or public transit as their main method of transportation.
  • Kitchen Operations – Imbalanced nutrition can result in a range of significant health issues, especially with seniors. Make sure that the senior can safely operate all of his or hers kitchen appliances. It is important to ensure that the senior knows how to turn the appliance on AND remembers to turn it off safely AND on time (e.g. stove, oven, and toaster). Inability to perform all of these tasks may be an indication of memory related issues and pose a risk factor to the senior’s safety.

As most seniors and elderly would like to stay and live independently at home, a caregiver is a very viable and affordable option. Caregivers In any capacity (Few hours a day or a live-in), would help the elderly to maintain an independent at-home life (e.g. daily errands, prepare meals, medication reminders, perform chores) by undertaking some of the more strenuous tasks that they can no longer perform effectively without compromising their well-being. In addition, a properly trained caregiver will identify any of the signs listed here (and more) and alert the family members of any significant changes that may require them to re-evaluate the situation.

As part of its free in-home assessment, Carefect homecare services works with the seniors and their families to identify the tasks and care requirements that will help them to continue living at home independently and safely. Carefect’s ongoing communication with the caregivers, the seniors and their families ensures that any changes in the overall health and the appearance of any of the signs mentioned here will be communicated and brought to immediate attention.

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