Things to Consider if a Senior Lives Alone

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(if an elderly relative or friend is living alone)

How do you know when it’s time to help a relative make the decision to hire a home health care company to have a caregiver help? The answers to this questionnaire may help you make that decision.

1. Has your elderly relative had accidents as a result of weakness, dizziness, or inability to get around?
2. Has use of the stove, oven, or other appliances become a safety problem because of forgetfulness?
3. Are there hazardous conditions in your elderly relative’s home, e.g., bathroom & bedroom on different floors?
4. Does your elderly relative refuse to use a wheelchair, walker, or other assistive device necessary for safety?
5. Does your elderly relative express a desire to die, or seem depressed, apathetic, or without interest in living?

1. Is your elderly relative unable or unwilling to use the kitchen for food preparation?
2. Is there a demonstrated nutritional problem such as weight loss, illness, anemia, etc.?
3. Does your elderly relative eat only inappropriate foods that will not provide nutritional needs?
4. Does your elderly relative forget to eat?

1. Is your elderly relative unwilling or unable to get to the toilet when necessary?
2. Is your elderly relative unable to change clothing or bed linens as necessary to remain clean and dry?

1. Does your elderly relative forget to take necessary medications?
2. Is it likely that your elderly relative would take an inappropriate dose of medicine, purposefully or accidentally?
3. Is your elderly relative unable physically to handle medications (spills or drops them) or to give needed injections?
4. Is your elderly relative unable to obtain help in case of an emergency?
5. If hearing is severely impaired, does your elderly relative refuse to use an aid or turn it on?

1. Is your elderly relative unable to handle money?
2. Does your elderly relative get lost in familiar situations?
3. Has your elderly relative left home without a destination?
4. Has your elderly relative behaved inappropriately in public (threatened others, exposed self, etc.)?
5. Does your elderly relative have mental or emotional problems that might be a threat to self or others?

These questions are phrased in such a way that ‘Yes’ answers suggest a problem. If you answered ‘Yes’ to some of these questions, you should be thinking of, and planning for, the probability that your relative will need additional home care and a caregiver to care for them in the future. If many of your responses were a definite Yes, a change may be needed very soon. Depending on your elderly relative’s needs, the change may mean caring for the person in your own home with a help of a caregiver, in an adult family home, in a senior or assisted living community, or a retirement or nursing home.