The mere thought of having your elderly parents live alone is mind-boggling and makes you cringe. They get so vulnerable that you fear for them every step they make. Sure enough, they always want to maintain their pride in living alone, and as humans and adults, we have to respect their decisions. It is hard to find a checklist for elderly living alone that lets us know what warning signs to look for.
However, there will come a time when you have to override their choice and make a choice to have them around longer than you can imagine. As you check in on them daily and ensure everything is up to par, there are sure signs you will realize that will make you take a step forward.
Checklist for Elderly Living Alone
Though living alone gives aging parents the independence they need, these signs are what will allow you to see they no longer can:
* Their home is dirty – Which was never the case
We all know our parents and how timid they get when they see a dirty glass in the sink. They never want to know there is any dirty laundry in the house or a dirty dish nor some dust on the center table in the sitting room. The need to clean is always one of their main priorities, so if you realize the opposite while they live alone, it is time to step in and do something.
A dirty house is a clear signal that they can no longer manage to be on their own as mere cleaning has become a struggle for them. They never allow trash to pile up, yet it is that way now, or the general setting of the house is untidy. You want to focus on their health, and a messy environment will never contribute anything good. It is probably time to consider moving them out, you move back in, or getting a live-in help to get things done around the house.
It also becomes a health hazard as unwanted pests are attracted to a physical mess. If your parent has failing vision? They won’t see the bugs in their box of cereal, or little friends that are all around the couch cushions that they like to snack on. I speak from experience here – sadly.
* Hygiene is Deteriorating
If you notice their hygiene is on a downward spiral, then you should realize it is time to get help for them. Their overall physical person is unclean, they probably smell, they wear dirty clothes, or don’t shower a lot because they are scared they may fall in the shower. These are more than enough signs to get you moving for their assistance.
It is important at their age to maintain proper hygiene as their immune system, and general health is not as strong as it used to be. They may become susceptible to health conditions that will develop into something more serious over time.
* They Have a Fall
This is kind of a “gimme” for your Checklist for Elderly Living Alone. If you are at work and you get a call from the hospital or medical center that your parents were rushed in because they had a fall, you don’t need any other sign. Even on their own, if they have too many cases of reported falls (from emergency records), they will be placed in assisted care to reduce the risk of them hurting themselves further.
Falling from stairs or in the shower is critical, as countless amounts of times we have seen devastating news of older adults were found dead because no one was around. Even things just lying around, or the edges of that area rug can be their nemesis.
At their age, it is not so easy to repair bones and muscles, so you want to eliminate the chances of having to deal with a life-long issue of critical care and attention. Sadly, one bad fall usually spirals into a rapid health decline.
Don’t want until a tragedy as this happens before realizing you need to get them help, move them out, or you probably move in – whichever is easier.
* Weight Fluctuation
This is one of the clearest signs to see that something is wrong, and you need to pay closer attention to your elderly parents. When you notice their weight fluctuates in terms of them becoming too slim, it is either:
- they forgot to eat
- are not hungry
- have no appetite to eat
- they don’t want to cook for just themself
- they are afraid to tell you they started a small fire when trying to cook
On the flip side, when they gain too much weight, it is also a need for concerns as they may be eating unhealthy foods or possibly overeating. Medical conditions can also be a factor that contributes to their weight inefficiencies. You will have to dedicate some time to get them assessed to see what is going on and know what decisions to take going forward.
* They No Longer See Clearly
Aging comes with a failing vision for most people, and it may not necessarily be associated with any illness or disease. It could be diabetes-related, or macular degeneration even. When they complain of not being able to see the figure clearly on their bills or can no longer read the morning paper, then it is time to get someone else in the home.
Failing to see is a recipe for disaster as not only are their lives are put in danger with not seeing around them, but they may end up taking the wrong medications as well.
Every too often, elderly adults have to be rushed in for medical assessment because they took the wrong medication, or they mixed up their medication. Don’t only consider getting them a daily medication planner because if they can’t see the “days on the kit” clearly, it will still be an issue. Get help for them as they should not be living alone at this stage.
* Multiple Medications
If they reach the stage where they have to take multiple medications in a given day, they should not be living alone. Not only that, they may mix the pills, but with memory loss, they will think they already took it or take it again and overdose.
They should have someone to monitor their taking times and help to organize them efficiently. Medications are complicated, and we all know this, and one error can be dangerous and end terribly.
There are so many other signs you need to look for to determine it is best not to have your parents living alone like:
- They wander a lot – If they go out and take longer to reach home because they lost their way (in a familiar town), then you should not let them be alone.
- Memory Loss – If they can’t remember simple things easily like recognizing colors, then it is dangerous to have them living alone. Just like failing vision, and fear, memory is also a feature of getting old.
The bottom line? It is important to watch for the signs so you can stay on top of things. All of these little areas add up to a loved one who needs help to be safe and live out their lives with grace.
I have a FREE Printable Great Checklist for Elderly Living Alone that you can get right here: