Can Dementia Patients Live Alone (& When Should They Stop)?

If you have a family member living with dementia, chances are you’ve wondered if dementia patients can live alone. You’re probably understandably concerned about their condition and if they are safe being left alone or if they might struggle to perform basic tasks or wander in the middle of the night.

In this article, we’ll cover resources that can be useful for people living with dementia, as well as when it might be time to implement round-the-clock care and supervision.

Can dementia patients live alone?

Although family members may be concerned about the prospect of a loved one with dementia living alone, it doesn’t have to be out of the question. Many dementia patients live alone with ease in the early stages of the disease. Of course, it’s important to make adjustments, take safety precautions and have the support of others while doing so.

When should a person with dementia stop living alone?

Once a person with dementia starts to need assistance with daily tasks like bathing and dressing, it’s likely time for them to stop living alone. These simple challenges indicate that they may no longer have the insight and judgment necessary to deal with emergencies should they arise.

The dangers of leaving a person with dementia alone

As mentioned above, once a dementia patient’s judgment is likely to become impaired, it’s probably no longer safe for them to be left alone. These challenges can also be applicable for someone living with a dementia patient, which is why it’s important to seek out support whenever possible.

They may experience impaired judgment or insight.

The last thing you want to worry about is a stranger coming to the door and harming your family member in some way. But if a patient with worsening dementia is left alone, it’s possible they may not be able to make the right decisions in situations like this.

They may not react appropriately in emergency situations.

When a dementia patient’s condition is worsening and they’re experiencing increased agitation and confusion, they may not take proper caution in dangerous situations, such as if there were a fire, which is likely the last thing you want to be worrying about in addition to their care.

They may wander in unsafe areas or at unsafe times.

If a dementia patient has started to wander since their diagnosis, this could prove to be dangerous as their memory deteriorates. They may find themselves lost and unable to contact a family member, or they may not have the best judgment about things like wandering in unfamiliar areas or late at night.

Make a plan that works for everyone.
Make a plan that works for everyone.

Tips for friends & families of the elderly living alone with dementia

1. Make sure they wear an ID bracelet

It can be extremely beneficial to have your elderly family member wear a dementia bracelet if they have been diagnosed with this condition. A dementia or Alzheimer’s bracelet can be helpful if your family member wanders and is lost and someone tries to help them amid their confusion. The bracelet can not only shed light on their condition, but it can include an emergency contact to reach.

2. Consider dementia housing options

In some cases, someone such as a dementia patient with no family may benefit from considering dementia housing options. Senior living facilities focused on memory care can be valuable resources because the patients will be cared for by professionals who are well-versed in their conditions and can provide valuable resources and a safe and healthy standard of living.

3. Look into dementia & alzheimer’s home care services

Similarly, having dementia and Alzheimer’s home care services can bring peace of mind to family members of someone living with dementia. These professionals can provide them some interaction while also helping them with their daily needs.

4. Equip the household with dementia aids

It can also be helpful to have dementia aids in the house. These aids can help with everything from bathing, hair washing, fall prevention, dining, and more. Some examples can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions by dementia patients and family members.
Frequently Asked Questions by dementia patients and family members.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it illegal to leave someone with dementia alone?

While it’s not illegal to leave someone with dementia alone, it can be dangerous, especially if their condition and memory has begun to deteriorate.

At what point do dementia patients need 24-hour care?

When dementia patients have lost the ability to communicate and function on their own, it’s time to look into 24-hour care and supervision, whether that’s a family member living with them, or moving them to a memory care facility.

How can you tell when an elderly person can’t live alone?

When an elderly person has memory problems, difficulty communicating and performing basic functions, it’s likely time to consider moving them to an assisted living facility or hiring a home health aide.


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