One of the biggest questions family members face when a loved one whose dementia has been confirmed is if they are still capable of safely living alone. What are the signs that the person’s ability to function alone has diminished and another living arrangement should be considered?
In the seminal book on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, “The 36-Hour Day,” family members are advised to be alert to the possibility that the person’s self-reliance may change suddenly due to an illness such as a cold or flu. For others, the decline may happen gradually and without anyone noticing.
People suffering from dementia are often easily confused and may try to cover up a symptom or deny it. Sometimes they will blame others for the problem or withdraw from the discussion.
Families that wait too long before addressing the issue could put their loved ones in danger. It may be time to consider full-time supervision or moving to a skilled-care residence with memory care.
Change in Personality
Uncharacteristic behavior such as apathy, negativism, suspicion, pessimism, or fearfulness are signs of changing personality. Also, look for neglect of personal hygiene and grooming.
While conversing on the phone, does the person ramble, repeat themselves or frequently forget what they were saying? These could be signs of a changing personality.
What You Can Do
Some changes to behavior do not necessarily indicate a demented illness, but once family members notice such changes, they should arrange a complete assessment. For those living at a distance, the Alzheimer’s Association can provide information about local resources.
Some people diagnosed with dementia can live independently for a while with supervision. For others, living alone is no longer safe. In that case, a live-in caregiver may be an option or moving the person into an assisted living or memory care facility.