Is It Safe for Your Parent to Live at Home Alone?

Ask your average senior citizen, and they will tell you they feel safest and happiest living in a home where they have already been for decades. But what happens if they are alone because they have lost a spouse or an adult child has moved on? What if you notice signs of physical or mental deterioration?

In those sorts of instances you have to ask yourself a difficult question: is it truly safe for your parent to live at home alone?

The answers will depend a great deal on their circumstances, of course, but here are some issues you’ll want to consider…

How Comfortable Do They Seem in Day-to-Day Life?

This is more of an “eye test” than it is firm criteria for judgment, but you can probably get a good sense of how comfortable your parent is just by observing them in daily life. Are they having trouble getting around? Can they navigate stairs? Do they seem happy and relaxed, or anxious and unsure? The answers will tell you a lot.

Can They Bathe, Clothe, and Medicate Themselves?

These are the main tasks senior citizens struggle with as they get older. If you aren’t sure whether your parent can manage them, go ahead and ask. Having trouble performing them doesn’t necessarily mean they need to move out of their home and into an assisted-living environment, but red flags do signify a need for different conditions. 

Is Your Parent Isolated From Others While Living at Home?

Sometimes, what’s most harmful to a senior who is living on their own isn’t any physical threat but the emotional toll of spending so much time on their own. Again, your mom or dad doesn’t necessarily have to move just because they are lonely. But you might want to look into a volunteer who can provide a bit of company when you aren’t around.

Does the House Need Safety Upgrades or Improvements?

There can be lots of things in an old home – like slippery rugs, hard-to-read oven dials, and wet surfaces (to name a few) – that encourage accidents. For a senior, slips and falls can present huge risks. One thing I did for my mother was make small safety-minded improvements to her home. I never regretted it, and you probably wouldn’t either.

What Is the State of Your Parent’s Mental and Physical Health?

This is the biggest factor to consider, of course, and one that can be the hardest to judge. Pay attention to what you see when you visit and consider making some simple notes you can refer back to later. Often, the signs of trouble aren’t immediately obvious until you observe that they have increased or worsened over time.

Having Trouble Evaluating the Situation?

When trying to figure out whether an older person is safe or vulnerable at home, there are rarely ever clear-cut answers. It’s all about assessing risks and situations. Often, the best middle ground is to leave the senior in place in a comfortable environment, but to improve the property and bring in some outside help. To learn more about how I did this for my mother – and what you can do to help your own loved one stay safe and comfortable –

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