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What to Do When Your Parent Can No Longer Live Alone?

September 15, 2023

We all cherish the memories of our parents' homes—the laughter-filled family gatherings, the warm holiday meals, and the late-night heart-to-heart conversations. These walls have seen your family's highs and lows, but as time passes, our loved one's age and their ability to live independently can wane. The transition from self-sufficiency to needing living assistance is not only a physical and emotional challenge for them but for the entire family. It's a poignant phase where roles often reverse, and the child becomes the caregiver. Recognizing the signs that a parent can no longer live alone and broaching the topic is often fraught with emotions, a mix of denial, guilt, and concern.

In this blog, we aim to shed light on these delicate moments. We'll guide you through the indicators that suggest it's time for a change and offer practical advice on approaching these often sensitive and complex conversations with empathy and understanding.

How Do You Know When a Parent Can No Longer Live Alone?

Recognizing when a parent should no longer be living on their own can be a difficult and emotional situation for everyone involved. Typically, it involves assessing a combination of your parent’s physical and mental health, cognitive abilities, safety, and overall well-being. 

If you notice several signs related to their deteriorating physical or mental health or general well-being, it could be time to consider a change. You can also consult with their healthcare provider or a geriatric specialist to get their opinion and guidance on different care options such as in-home companion care.

When Should a Parent No Longer Live Alone?

The decision to move a parent out of their home, or to move a dedicated caregiver into it, is one that should be made carefully and with their best interest in mind. There’s usually not just one indicator but rather multiple signs that your parent can no longer live alone. Some factors to think about when determining whether your parent should continue living on their own or if it’s time to start considering other options include:

  • Declining physical health
  • Inability to reliably complete their activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Frequent falls, accidents, or other injuries
  • Cognitive changes such as increased memory problems
  • Hazardous living conditions
  • Social isolation
  • Emotional and behavioral changes
  • Increased medical needs

What to Do When a Parent Can No Longer Live Alone?

If you’re charting the new and tricky waters of realizing that your parent can no longer live alone, we’re here for you. Know that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to elderly care and it’s important to tailor your handling of this to your parent’s specific circumstances. Here are some starter tips:

  • Consider their current situation. Assess your parent’s current health, living situation, and ability to perform their ADLs to evaluate their care needs.
  • Be open and honest with them. It’s important to involve your parent in the decision-making surrounding this life transition and to be honest with them about their needs and preferences, as well as the seriousness of the situation. 
  • Research different care options. You can consider in-home care, assisted living, memory care, or nursing care facilities, for example. Learn more about Average Cost of In Home Care
  • Plan financially. When starting to explore care options, you should evaluate your parent’s financial situation and explore different funding sources, such as Medicaid (varies by state), long-term care insurance, etc.
  • Create a care plan. Outline your parent’s needs and chosen care options and help them plan for the transition. 
  • Get on top of legal matters. It’s important at this time to ensure that legal documents such as power of attorney are set up and reflect your parent’s wishes.
  • Be emotionally supportive. This can be a very emotionally volatile time for your parent, and it’s crucial that you or the family and friends helping out during this process are supportive, patient, and reassuring to them as everyone adapts to the changes. 

How to Tell An Elderly Parent They Can’t Live Alone?

When a parent begins to require significant assistance with their daily care, they should no longer be living on their own. However, this may be a difficult topic to address with them, and it’s important to approach it with empathy and respect. That being said, here is some advice to keep in mind while breaking the news to your elderly parent:

  • Choose a good time and place. Find a place that you are both comfortable speaking in, where there will be few interruptions or distractions. 
  • Listen to what they have to say and involve them in the decision-making process. Show them that you respect them and their wishes for long-term care.
  • Share specific observations. This can be helpful when explaining why you are concerned about their ability to take care of themself.
  • Consider involving others as it makes sense to involve other family members or close friends in the process, or seek professional guidance such as a healthcare provider, social worker, or geriatric care manager.
  • Be patient. Again, understand that this conversation may be difficult for your parent and that they may be resistant to the idea of leaving their home or inviting someone in. Stay patient and kind while firmly asserting your beliefs and best wishes for their care as you work together to make decisions.

Who Is Responsible For Taking Care Of An Elderly Person Who Cannot Care For Themselves?

While there are options for the elderly that can’t live alone, the responsibility typically falls to their family members to take care of them or help them decide who will be going forward. Since caregiving can quickly become a full-time job, it’s important for families to consider multiple avenues of care, such as hiring a primary caregiver or home care provider(s) or moving their elderly parent to an assisted facility or skilled nursing home. Find out more about Home Health Aid Cost Per Hour.

Looking for a Home Companion for Your Senior? 

Learn how Senior Home Companions has provided more than 3,000 families with care that creates active and engaged lives through exceptional in-home companion care, respite care, and other support services such as assisted living and hospice support. Contact us today if you believe your loved ones deserve the best care Indiana and Florida have to offer.