When Should a Person with Dementia Stop Living Alone?
Is it Better to Live Home Alone or In an In-care Facility?
There are opposing opinions on whether a person should live alone or be provided extensive care when living with a disease we know very little about.
The question is lingering: who should be taking care of people affected by dementia? Should they stay at home or should they be admitted into a health facility? Let’s see.
Is It Really Safe to Live Alone with Dementia?
This article in VOX states the following: “Dementia is how we describe symptoms that impact memory and lead to a decline in cognitive performance often in ways that disrupt daily living. There are different brain disorders that cause dementia, but Alzheimer’s is the most common, followed by cerebrovascular disease and Lewy bodies disease.”
A lot of people with dementia manage to keep living on their own quite well during the early stages of the disease. Taking precautions and having the support of trustworthy people around them should make things easier for them. This includes not only safety precautions but also legal and financial precautions as well. All of this while a patient can still take part in making decisions.
A Person with Dementia Should Not Live Alone at Home if They Start to Experience the Following:
People with dementia experience cognitive changes that affect decision-making, self-care routine, and fulfillment of basic needs such as proper nutrition.
Moreover there is a huge risk of falls, due to photosensitivity and color contrasts to mention a couple of reasons. There’s the danger of harming oneself or wandering off, which is serious and common.
Though poor personal hygiene or bad living conditions are not as dangerous, nevertheless these may cause health issues as well.
Then consider medication, with its increased risk of misuse, including skipped or repeated doses. There’s also the problem of not paying bills or neglecting financial responsibilities.
Unfortunately, this disease will also limit or alter a patient’s awareness about what they are actually able to perform. They can fix themselves a meal or do some housekeeping, but are they truly safe while doing this? Also, think about driving – how much longer are they going to be able to do that safely?
Another consideration is fear and aggression. Persons with dementia can start behaving unpredictably, even aggressively. Just imagine how you would feel if someone you didn’t recollect came into your house, demanded you take off your clothes, and attempted to bathe you.
Living Alone in Isolation
Next, the painful truth is that people with such a diagnosis often face a considerable amount of loneliness and isolation. “People who have dementia and live alone are at greater risk of social isolation and loneliness, two significant risk factors when it comes to declining senior health.
Research, conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society, has found that 62% of people with dementia who live alone feel lonely compared to 38% of all people with dementia. Loneliness can lead to early death (Holt-Lunstad et al, 2010).”
For these people, asking others for help may feel overwhelming because:
- They don’t want to be a burden; and
- They don’t want to depend on other people.
Adding to their loneliness is that they tend to rarely ever leave their homes. Sometimes once a week or even once a month.
There is a 2002 study on social isolation done at the University of California in which more than 1,600 adults, were asked about loneliness. They were monitored for health issues; of the 43 percent of those who reported that they suffered from loneliness, more than half died within six years. Lonely people are very much at risk of physical decline.
When Is It Time for Senior Care?
This alone is a reason why those who suffer from dementia, or their families, should look into options for housekeeping services, private duty caregivers, or a personal home health aide for elderly people.
Further, those who live alone are faced with a considerably worse prognosis in case of an emergency (and thus delayed treatment) for sepsis, pneumonia, or myocardial infarction. There is also a risk of falls for elderly seniors with dementia living at home.
Dementia isn’t the same in all people who suffer from it. Some even die of something else before dementia reaches its peak. Others, on the other hand, live a long time with severe symptoms.
Although not all families have the resources to provide for their loved ones, for those who do, it’s understandable that they are uncertain about what should be done next.
Ask Yourself These Two Powerful Questions Before You Decide on What to Do Next With a Family Member Living with Advanced Dementia at Home :
- Am I able to provide the care my loved one needs? Their basic needs must be met every day, all day. If they continue having accidents, if they get injured, or if their home is just not safe for them to live in on their own, think no further. They are ready for an upgrade in the amount of care needed.
- Can I care for my loved one without harming myself? This subject is very potent and requires brutal honesty and self-awareness.
Remember, you are not selfish if you need to prioritize taking care of yourself and your family. Also, if you avail yourself of outside help, this slight distancing from the gravity of the condition is sure to improve your relationship with your loved one.
Senior care is truly beneficial. Your loved one can live their life more fully and even enjoy improved cognition if they have a safe, nurturing environment.
Don’t forget that the elderly who have dementia and are living at home have complex care needs due to grave cognitive impairment, and therefore they have an extensive need for daily living assistance. Thus, they should not live alone.
It is certainly heartbreaking to watch someone suffer, but it’s more painful for them to live with it – alone.
About The Author:
Anne Harris is an HR specialist working for londonlive-incare.com. She eagerly shares her knowledge with her audience on various blogs. When she isn’t writing or attending wellness conferences, she likes to pack her rucksack and ride her day away on her bike or spend time with her friends.
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