Should Your Elderly Parents Be Living Alone? 12 Warning Signs

Should your elderly parents be living independently? If they live alone, should they be? What are some things to look out for?

The number of seniors living alone has increased dramatically over the last decade. In 2016, nearly half (48%) of U.S. adults aged 65 or older lived alone.

Should Your Elderly Parents Be Living Alone? 12 Warning Signs

This trend is expected to continue into the future.

Living alone isn’t always bad. There are benefits to living alone, such as independence and freedom from family obligations. But there are also risks associated with living alone.

Here are 12 red flags that indicate that your aging parents might be at risk.

Is Your Parent Healthy Enough To Live Alone?

If you’re concerned about your parent’s health, it may be time to have a conversation about moving them in with you, another relative, or even having them move into a senior nursing home.

Your parents may not be able to take care of themselves if they don’t have someone to help them.

Their health could deteriorate, which would make their situation worse. And they could get hurt.

Even though your parent may seem healthy now, he or she may develop an illness later on. It can be hard to predict when this will happen, but it could be sooner rather than later.

If your parent lives alone, he or she could fall and break something, causing severe injury. Or he or she could slip and hit his or her head, resulting in a serious brain injury.

A recent study found that one-third of people who were living alone reported falling within the past year.

The researchers concluded that “falling was common among those who lived alone.”

You can prevent these types of accidents by making sure your parent has enough support around him or her.

However, at some point, you may begin to question whether your parents need more assistance.

How To Know When An Elderly Person Can’t Live Alone

While living alone doesn’t necessarily mean that your parent is unhealthy, it does mean that he or she is vulnerable.

You need to know how to recognize signs that your parent is becoming ill so that you can intervene before it’s too late.

Here are 12 warning signs that your parent may need extra help:

1. Changes In Behavior

Changes in behavior can be subtle, but they often signal trouble ahead.

For example, if your parent starts acting differently — like forgetting where he or she puts things — it could be a sign that he or she is developing dementia.

Dementia causes changes in memory and thinking skills. These changes can include difficulty finding words, losing track of what day it is, or getting lost while driving.

2. Loss Of Interests

Loss of interests is another sign that your parents are beginning to show symptoms of cognitive decline.

For example, if your parent stops watching TV, playing cards, reading books, or engaging in other hobbies they enjoy, it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

3. Difficulty With Daily Activities

Difficulty with daily activities is another sign that your elderly parent is showing early signs of cognitive decline.

If your parent becomes forgetful, forgets appointments, or struggles with cooking, it could be a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.

Other conditions, including depression and anxiety, can cause similar problems.

4. Problems Sleeping

Problems sleeping can be a sign of other illnesses as well.

For example, sleep apnea can lead to daytime drowsiness. This can affect your parent’s ability to drive safely. In addition, lack of sleep can also increase the risk for falls.

5. Memory Issues

Memory issues are also a sign that your parent is experiencing cognitive decline.

If your parents begin to forget names, places, dates, or conversations, it could be a problem. Have a conversation with your parent, and listen closely.

Ask about events from the past. If your parent seems confused, there may be reason to be concerned.

6. Depression

Depression is another condition that can cause memory loss, and can make an older person act strangely.

Symptoms include sadness, lack of interest, and fatigue. Your parent might appear sad, withdrawn, or irritable. He or she might even become angry or aggressive.

7. Physical Illness

Physical illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease can all contribute to cognitive decline.

If you are aware that your parent is suffering with any of these diseases, you should encourage him or her to move in with you, or find a caregiver who will care for them at home.

8. Poor Nutrition

Should Your Elderly Parents Be Living Alone? 12 Warning Signs

Poor nutrition can cause cognitive impairment. It can even make existing health conditions worse.

If you believe that your parents are not eating as well as they used to, this could be a sign that their brain function is declining.

9. Lack Of Exercise

Exercise helps keep seniors’ minds sharp, but despite this, many older adults don’t get enough exercise. That can lead to weight gain, which can worsen other health conditions.

However, too much exercise while living alone could lead to injury. Make sure to talk to your parent about his or her exercise routine.

10. Social Isolation

Social isolation can lead to poor mental health. It can also increase the risk for physical illness.

Are your parents getting enough social interactions? If not, encourage them to meet new people, or move in with someone else.

If your parent is living completely alone, for example, following the death of their spouse, he or she may experience feelings of loneliness.

You can help by providing companionship, and making sure that your parent has friends nearby.

11. Frequent Falls

Frequent falls are one of the most common reasons why people over 65 have injuries.

They can lead to broken bones, head trauma, and even death. It is very important to protect your senior loved ones from falling.

12. Substance Abuse

Alcohol abuse and drug use can both lead to memory loss. It can also cause health problems. Substance abuse in elders is more common than people would expect.

If your parent starts using alcohol or drugs, or becomes agitated after drinking, you should take action.

Talk to your parent about their substance abuse, and consider having him or her evaluated by a doctor.

Final Thoughts

As we age, our brains do begin to deteriorate. This deterioration can result in memory loss, confusion, depression, and even dementia.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent these symptoms from developing.

By taking steps like those mentioned above, you can ensure that your elderly loved one stays mentally healthy.

If your parents are living alone, and you are worried about them, you should definitely have a conversation with them about their situation.

You can start by asking if they feel safe living on their own. Then, ask how often they see family members. Finally, ask what kind of support system they have.

This information will give you an idea whether it’s time to intervene.

We hope this article helped you understand some of the signs that your aging parents are struggling with.

Eddie Lamb