Dementia is a life-changing diagnosis. It’s a broad term used to describe the symptoms of mental decline associated with brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s. In this blog, we discuss frequently asked questions about dementia, such as:
- Can a person with dementia live alone?
- Can you leave someone with dementia alone?
- Can Alzheimer’s patients live at home?
- How long can Alzheimer’s patients live alone?
- When should a person with dementia stop living alone?
At the end of the article, we also list a few dangers of living alone with dementia and how to get in-home care for seniors with dementia, enabling them to age safely in place.
Can a Person With Dementia Live Alone?
It depends on their diagnosis, but in some cases, yes. Everyone’s experience with dementia differs. The rate at which symptoms progress varies from person to person. For some, the illness advances rather quickly, and it’s not safe for them to live alone. Other times, dementia patients can live in their own homes for several years with minimal support.
Can You Leave Someone With Dementia Alone?
Those in the early stage of dementia are usually stable enough to leave by themselves but use discretion. Even patients with mild cases may not be safe to be alone if they’ve demonstrated certain dementia-related behaviors. Once a patient enters the moderate stage of dementia, when they require help with basic activities of daily living (e.g., bathing, grooming, eating), it’s unsafe for them to be left alone.
Can Alzheimer’s Patients Live at Home?
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, so the same answers as above apply to the question, “Can Alzheimer’s patients live at home?” According to the Alzheimer’s Association, many people with Alzheimer’s live on their own during the early stages of the disease but will eventually need regular oversight.
The stages of Alzheimer’s disease are divided into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe.
1. Early-stage Alzheimer’s (Mild)
When a person is first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they may be able to function normally (e.g., driving, working, socializing) and live alone. Symptoms will be mild, such as forgetting where they left their keys. This stage is the ideal time to put legal, financial, and end-of-life plans in place because your loved one will still be able to help make decisions.
2. Middle-stage Alzheimer’s (Moderate)
Middle-stage Alzheimer’s is the longest stage. During this stage, Alzheimer’s symptoms are more apparent. Your loved one may confuse words, become incontinent, forget parts of their personal history, and wander, making it unsafe to leave them alone. They can still participate in daily activities but will require more assistance.
3. Late-stage Alzheimer’s (Severe)
In the final stages of Alzheimer’s, individuals display debilitating symptoms and become more prone to infections. They may still be able to speak but communicating and moving will be difficult. As their mental health continues to decline, they will require comprehensive 24-hour care.
So, can you live at home with dementia? Yes, but it largely depends on the stage and symptoms an Alzheimer’s patient is experiencing.
How Long Can Alzheimer’s Patients Live Alone?
Another common question among families of older adults with dementia is, “How long can Alzheimer’s patients live at home?”
The amount of time a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can continue to live at home alone varies. There’s no set number of years between when a person is diagnosed and when it’s dangerous to let them live independently. Carefully monitor your loved one’s symptoms and consult the professional opinion of a doctor before letting an Alzheimer’s patient live alone.
When Should a Person With Dementia Stop Living Alone?
Should a person with dementia live alone? If so, when should a person with dementia stop living alone? As previously discussed, those in the early stages of dementia might be okay to live alone. However, as the disease progresses, it affects more than a person’s memory. Brain functions begin to deteriorate, causing problems with perception and balance, bodily functions, and behavior. Your loved one should not live alone once they start displaying these moderate symptoms:
- Mood swings
These symptoms might not seem very severe, but below we’ve listed a few dangers of living alone with dementia that result from these symptoms.
Dangers of Living Alone With Dementia
Approximately 1 in 3 adults over 65 and 1 in 2 adults over 80 fall at least once per year. Those with long-term health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease are at a higher risk of falling due to changes in their depth perception, which affects balance.
2. Getting lost
Those with dementia often become confused or agitated, causing them to wander and get lost. Wandering is a risk for all Alzheimer’s patients. It’s especially dangerous for those who live alone without anyone monitoring them.
3. Forgetting daily needs
Forgetfulness is a common symptom in all stages of Alzheimer’s, but it’s one that evolves. Changes in cognition reduce an Alzheimer’s patient’s ability to make decisions about their day-to-day needs (e.g., eating), eventually making them unfit to live independently.
Questions like “Can someone with dementia live alone?” are not ones that can be definitively answered because they’re dependent on individual circumstances. Therefore, always consult the professional opinion of a dementia patient’s doctor.
If your loved one has dementia and you are unable to care for them or need a break, we have a solution for you.
Memory Care at Home for Seniors With Dementia
So, can Alzheimer’s patients live at home? Technically yes, but as stated, it depends on the person’s condition. Better to stay on the safe side and get help early, so you don’t have to worry about the dangers of living alone with dementia.
If you’re a family caregiver looking after an elderly parent with dementia, we understand the complications associated with their diagnosis. We also know that at some point, their symptoms will exceed your ability to care for them safely. When that day comes, contact Stowell Associates.
Stowell Associates is a Wisconsin-based geriatric care management company. Our geriatric care managers present families with dementia care options for their aging loved ones, such as memory care at home. We’ve partnered with TheKey to provide the services of expert caregivers who are trained to support people living with any type of cognitive impairment.
Talk with a Stowell Care Manager today to get professional advice regarding in-home dementia care for your elderly loved one.