How do you determine when a parent can no longer live alone?

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As caregivers, many of us have taken an oath to do no harm. Sometimes we decide an individual can no longer live alone based on his/her ability to care for themselves. But there's a lot more to it than that.

There has to be an ethical component that includes the impact our decisions will have on the individual and ourselves. In a nutshell, we'll have to be able to live with the decisions we make on behalf of others under our care and supervision. Consulting others in the care team is the best way to know we're doing the right thing.

In the meantime, keep coming back to this site and surf the Net for information. If you go to and post a question such as the one you're asking here, it'll lead you to many useful articles. On, you'll find some tips that you can tailor to your Dad's needs.

Stay sane, Leda. And let us know how it goes.

-- ED
if they are in danger.
Leda: we probably need a little more info. about your Dad's current state....

My philosophy is that parents are much healthier and more mentally stimulated if they can remain in their homes. I am a big fan of the "aging-in-place" movement and have been gathering as much info. for my Mom as I can. I was just speaking to a friend yesterday and we marveled at how all our grandparents lived in their homes/apts. until their deaths(they were all in their 70s to 90s and had various illnesses - it was unheard of not to stay in your home back then.)

So far, my Mom has been able to live in her apt. with lots of care from us and a little by a caregiver who comes in once a month or so. As time goes on she may need more in-home care. However, if it gets to the point where she needs more medical and physical supervision that we all can offer, it is in her best interests to be given a safer environment.

You have asked the 64 million dollar question. And there is no one-size-fits-all answer, other than "you will know it when you see it." In the meantime, you can be looking for both in-home alternatives and care facilities in your area.

Good luck...
When they can't get up off the potty by themselves.
Is Your Parent in Good Hands?: Protecting Your Aging Parent from Financial Abuse and Neglect (Paperback)

I believe this books lists some concrete criteria that will help you answer this question. The same material can probably found elsewhere also.
We have been struggling with the same question for 2 years. We went with my father in law to doctors visits over and over the dr. kept telling us that he should not be living alone but the dr. would not do anything positive to make that happen. Dad refused to move willingly. It was totally up to us. We knew he was declining, physically and mentally but we were stuck in knowing "how" to go about it. We recently met with a Geriatric Care Management Professional for a counseling session. It was so helpful! We had to put the emotions aside and know that if there was danger and health concerns with him living alone, we had to do something for his welfare. The transition just happened and so far we are shocked at how much easier it has been than we anticipated. He is actually seeming to be relieved. We are still praying this one through that the adjustment will take and he will be more and more accepting. Good Luck! Keep in mind safety and health come first.
all situations different- my mom wanted to die in her home- my 44 year old brother has never moved out- they have not good relationship- she 79- always crying and said once that he ignores her- whenever i went over there i wuld have to go to the other living room to see him - never talks to her - she would not admit it - seemed scared- she said she wants to live with me so now she is- has dementia- he has refinanced 4 times and has used up most of equity - he called last week cuz he had someone come over to refi but was not comfortable doing it cuz said she doesnt seem to know whats going on- no one has power of attorney - he asked if i could bring mom to livermore cuz he found someone who would refy the home and give him $39,000- he wants to put siding , new lino, carpet and new cabinets in the kitchen- i said yes- called my other brother and he said no - so now i am calling probate to see what i need to do to get conservatorship- he also told me not to change the soc. sec. deposit into my account that he would write me a check for $600 each month- he kept feb. check - not surprised- so anyway thats where i am at- my mom was not willing to move from her home of 40yrs. and then 1 day she wanted to get the heck out- everyday she asks can i stay here? do you have a bed for me? i say of course you can- and she smiles=yahoo!!!
Whew, if there is anyone who needs a lawyer, specializing in elder care it is you. That brother needs some corn gravy.
We just put my mom in a residential/assisted living/nursing home yesterday. She no longer could stay home because of depression and self neglect. She lost her husband, my dad in October, I've been giving her time to grieve but she was going downhill, staying in bed all day and not bathing. She needed alot of help and I had to take her to the emergency room and they put her in a Senior Behavioral Center for a week while I looked for places for her to go into. With the help of A Place for Mom agency we found this small homelike facility for her to be transferred to. It only has 23 residents and 24 hr nursing.She was not happy about being there and had a little tantrum. The manager says it will take about 2months for her to adjust and she will have her good days and her bad. It's been the hardest thing in my life to do but we know it is for the best. I tried to keep her in her home with caregivers but it just wasn't working. We were not qualified to give her the type of care she required.
All of the things posted previously are wonderful indicators and helpful links. Read them. Take them in. Think and ponder on each and every one of them. The answer will come. Keep in mind, it may not be the one you LIKE, but it will be the best one. Whatever the choice you make, you should make without guilt. It's the right choice. If the tables were turned, your parent(s) would do the same thing. It's whatever is best for them at this point. Good luck. Come back to this site. It's a great one.

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