When should a person with dementia stop living alone?

dementia patient care

As dementia progresses it can become more difficult for the individual to safely live an independent life.

When a person first starts to show signs of dementia their symptoms may be very mild and have little impact on their day to day life.

As dementia is a progressive condition, symptoms change and worsen over time. As the symptoms of dementia change, so does the person’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, look after themselves, and live independently.

If you know or care for someone with dementia then you will need to regularly reassess their changing needs to ensure that they continue to receive the correct level of care required to live a safe, comfortable, and fulfilling life.

In this article, we will find out more about the symptoms of dementia, how the condition progresses, and how to recognise when it is no longer safe for a person with dementia to live alone.

When should a person with dementia stop living alone?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. Every person with dementia experiences different symptoms and has different circumstances.

The right time for someone with dementia to stop living alone is when they can no longer receive the level of care they require to live safely and comfortably alone.

The point when these circumstances are reached depends on several factors, these include:

  • The type of dementia the person has.
  • The symptoms the person with dementia is experiencing.
  • How fast dementia progresses.
  • Their carer’s circumstances and health.
  • The environment they live in.

Ideally, the person with dementia should be involved in deciding when they should stop living alone. Sometimes, they may be able to decide to move to a care home themselves, however, it is often the case that by the time the condition has progressed to the point that they can no longer live alone, the person has lost the mental capacity to make such a big decision.

If this is the case, then the decision is usually made by their Lasting Power of Attorney, Personal Welfare Deputy, or health and social care professionals.

Signs that a person with dementia can no longer live independently

There are plenty of dementia support and care services available to help those with dementia to live independently for as long as possible if they wish to do so.

However, as the condition progresses it is important to look out for signs that it is no longer safe or in their best interests to be left living at home alone.

Dementia is a neurological condition that causes cognitive impairment including forgetfulness and changes in behaviour. As dementia progresses it is common to experience memory loss, confusion, difficulty with language, problems with thinking, judgement, and decision-making. People with dementia should not be living alone without care if they are suffering any cognitive impairment that could lead to them coming to any harm at home.

Some common signs that a person with dementia can no longer live independently include:

  • They are struggling with personal hygiene.
  • Their home is beginning to get messy, dirty, or unhygienic.
  • They are losing weight or struggling with food preparation.
  • They are having difficulty communicating.
  • They are having problems with physical movement.
  • They have got lost when they’ve gone out alone.
  • They have had an accident, fall, or suffered some other injury at home.
  • Their mental well-being is suffering.

Whilst some individuals may find that their dementia progresses quite quickly and it is in their best interests to move directly from their home to a care home, many people with dementia can remain living at home for longer with the help of a relative or a professional home care service.

Part-time care could involve having a friend or family member visit a few days a week to prepare meals, do the shopping, and help with housework. Alternatively, home care services provide professional carers who visit the person with dementia in their home as regularly as is required to help with daily tasks and provide support and company.

How to decide when a person with dementia needs full-time care

During the later stages of the condition, those with dementia may require round-the-clock care.

How long after their diagnosis they reach this point varies from one person to the next, depending on a whole variety of factors. We have written an article that explains a little more about how quickly dementia progresses.

Deciding that a loved one with dementia needs full-time care can be a difficult and emotional decision for family members, especially if they have been providing care for the person themselves up to that point. However, enlisting the help of a professional, full-time, live-in carer or moving them to a care home can improve their quality of care and quality of life.

Full-time care is required when a person with dementia cannot safely or comfortably be left alone. This is often for one of the following reasons:

  • They are having problems with mobility.
  • They are having problems with eating or swallowing.
  • They have become incontinent.
  • Behavioural changes such as aggression or emotional distress.
  • They have suffered an accident or injury at home.

If it is becoming difficult to provide a person with dementia with intensive enough care at home or if their carer is having any concerns about their safety or welfare, then it may be time to consider moving them to a care home where they can receive full-time, professional care.

If you are caring for someone with dementia, you may also benefit from taking a Dementia Awareness training course like the one that we run here at Care Business Associates. Our 3-hour course provides important information about the condition and its symptoms and how a person with dementia experiences the world. The course also teaches useful strategies for communicating and caring for a person with dementia to help improve their comfort and wellbeing.

If you’d like to find out more about our dementia awareness training, give our team a call on 01772 816 922 or email admin@cba-training.co.uk.