Tuesday Tips for Caregivers ~ How to Tell If It’s Too Dangerous to Leave Your Loved One Alone

Tuesday Tips for Caregivers ~ How to Tell If It’s Too Dangerous to Leave Your Loved One Alone

Leaving Your Loved One at Home: When It Becomes Dangerous

If you are caring for an aging loved one who has developed a degenerative neurological disorder, then you are confronted with many unknowns. How fast will the condition develop? How expensive is treatment and care? How do you schedule your time around caring for your loved one with other responsibilities at hand? Becoming a family caregiver for a loved one with a degenerative neurological disorder is life changing, and can dramatically alter your daily responsibilities, social relationships, and career.

One of the questions that you may not have thought about is: At what point can your loved one no longer be left by themselves? This is a very important question because, as degenerative neurological conditions progress, it becomes harder for people living with this condition to perform daily tasks and activities. Degenerative neurological disorders typically entail memory loss combined with other cognitive issues. This fact can make leaving your loved one at home dangerous because you can put them at risk for multiple things, like injuries.[1] In this blog, we will go over some potential problems, ways to determine if your loved one is well enough to be on their own, and how you can assess whether your loved one is able to be by themselves.

Potential problems

Degenerative neurological disorders, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, result in a complex variety of neurological symptoms, including memory loss, decreased motor skills, decreased ability to communicate, among a host of other symptoms. For example, diseases like Alzheimer’s can lead people to experience delusions, which is when someone experiences sensations that are not actually present. Some hallucinations can be bad memories from the past, others can include delusions that there is an intruder in the home.[2] This can be a big problem if your loved one is home alone with no one to calm them down and help them out of such delusions.

Other potential problems include an increased risk of injury. Not only do degenerative neurological disorders impact movements, old age in general can make bones more brittle, muscles less flexible, and coordination not as sharp. These facts can lead to serious injury if your loved one is left home alone without someone assisting them in and out of the bathroom or up and down stairs.

One of the difficulties as a family caregiver is determining when your loved one needs constant care. Perhaps the lines are blurred and you are having a hard time knowing if constant care is necessary.

Assessing whether your loved one can be on their own

The first thing to think about is what can your loved one still do. Degenerative neurological diseases get worse over time. But that means the initial stages are not as bad as later stages. If your loved one was diagnosed early, then they may still be able to do things independently for the most part, and the level of personal care might be low. As a condition worsens, this will change and you will have to start thinking of ways to care for your loved one.

What are some cues to pay attention to that can inform you whether your loved one is okay on their own? One aspect to focus on is their memory. Are they still able to remember to take their medications, go to appointments, return phone calls, etc? Another thing to look for is their current ability to do daily chores. Are they still able to cook? Do they remember to turn off appliances? Can they still manage money, manage their house, and drive around? If any answers to these questions are “no,” then you should consider finding more permanent care for your loved one.

Making these decisions are never easy, but you are not alone. If you need help, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website for more information.

[1] Source: Home Care Assistance
[2] Source: Ibid.

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