Living Alone When You’ve Been Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s
When you've been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, there's a lot to learn about what to expect. Here's how to approach living alone with Alzheimer's
Receiving an Alzheimer’s diagnosis comes with a lot of questions. When you’re diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, your family may be doing research about the progression of the disease, risk factors, and care options. Those who live alone are quick to question how they will continue to live an independent life in spite of diagnosis.
Rather than immediately entering assisted living or moving in with a family member, many who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are able to continue living alone, depending on their condition. While those with Alzheimer’s are at a greater risk of falling, wandering away from home, and inadequate self-care, those in the early stages of the disease who take necessary safety precautions can continue to live independently for some time.
Avoid making a premature move and sacrificing your comfort by ensuring proper measures are taken to support your well-being and safety. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about living alone with Alzheimer’s.
Remember, it’s important to continually assess your condition and be honest about your safety. If living alone feels dangerous or undesirable, it may be time to transition into a new living situation where you can receive more care.
Finances and Legal Plan
Having a legal and financial plan in place is important for all adults, not only those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. If you have yet to make your healthcare and end-of-life wishes known, it is recommended that you do so now. This can be done by creating a living will and a health care power of attorney. Decide which type of environment you would feel the most comfortable in once you are no longer able to live independently. Consider the different treatment options for Alzheimer’s and outline the type of care you would prefer. These documents will provide help for your loved ones when they must make decisions on your behalf.
In addition to making plans for the future, it’s also important to make plans for the present. It is not uncommon for those with Alzheimer’s to forgot to make bill payments or manage their banking. Learn more about bank-at-home services that will allow you to manage your finances more conveniently.
Safety and Self-Care
Living alone with Alzheimer’s raises questions of safety. While it is true that it is not safe to live independently while in the later stages of Alzheimer’s, there are many precautions that can be taken during the early stages to allow you to continue living alone.
It’s important to create a detailed plan for your personal hygiene, diet, and household tasks. It is never the intent of a person with Alzheimer’s to neglect their self-care, but oftentimes it is overlooked due to changes in thinking. It’s a wise decision to ask your loved ones for help with daily tasks such as meal preparation and medicine distribution. Organize your dresser drawers and closet in a way that will make it easy for you to choose what to wear each day.
Along with creating a plan for how you will take care of your basic needs, it’s also important to make sure your home is properly cared for. Arrange to have a housekeeper clean weekly or bi-weekly. Label cupboards and drawers with their contents inside to help avoid confusion. Be sure to keep a list of important telephone numbers next to the phone. Use a large font so they are easy to read.
To ensure your home is safe, leave notes reminding yourself to do tasks such as turning off the oven or unplugging the curling iron. Whenever possible, use electrical items that shut off on their own to avoid risk of fire. Be sure to put fresh batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and mark a date in the calendar to replace them.
Even if your Alzheimer’s is in the early stages, it’s important to prepare for the future by setting up necessary precautions. It may be a while before your disease progresses, but it’s always best to prepare for the future to ensure your safety.
Create a plan for your transportation. At some point, those with Alzheimer’s should no longer drive as they present a risk of harm to themselves and others. Determine how you will get around once you are no longer able to drive and plan for the future. If you have children, see if you can plan together to buy an accessible vehicle if they will be assisting you in getting where you need to go. If possible, start using this method of transportation on occasion so it begins to feel more comfortable to you, even if that simply means sitting in the passenger seat of the car.
Those with Alzheimer’s may be prone to wandering so it be sure to set up a system for your safe return home. While it’s a good idea to keep a map indicating your home on your person when you leave the house, there are also safety systems available such as the MedicAlert Safe Return program.
Remember that your safety is of the utmost importance. Take all necessary precautions to ensure you are not at risk of danger by living independently and always be truthful about when it is time to receive more constant care.