Welcome to This is Getting Old: Moving Towards an Age-Friendly World, I’m your host Melissa Batchelor, and today I’ll be sharing Alzheimer’s Disease and Living Alone: Four Signs Someone May Not Be Safe at Home Alone – and what you can do about it.

Many people have asked me what some of the signs are that a loved one may be experiencing memory loss when the person lives alone or doesn’t live close by to see them every day. When someone lives alone, it’s easier for them to cover up memory problems. You may have to get a trusted friend or neighbor to check on your loved one if you can’t be there in person.

If you are concerned about someone living alone and whether or not they need help, here are four changes you can consider and questions to think about:

#1: Changes in Phone Calls

  • When you talk on the phone, does the person ramble or repeat information?
  • Does the person forget what they were saying and cannot pick back up on the train of thought when you provide a few details of what they were saying?
  • Do they repeat the same story each time you call, as if it were new?
  • Are you getting fewer phone calls from a person who usually calls you regularly? Or too many calls? Or maybe calls that are late at night or early in the morning?

#2: Changes in Emailing or Writing:

  • If a person was on social media or emailed you before, have they stopped doing that?
  • When they write something, does it appear to be rambling that’s uncharacteristic of the person?
  • If they send you a handwritten note, has their handwriting changed?

#3: Changes in Personality or Habits:

  • Has your loved one started to become uncharacteristically negative or pessimistic?
  • Have they stopped going to social or family events when they used to be out and about?
  • Do they seem withdrawn or sad? More isolated?
  • Are they neglecting themselves – so not showering or getting dressed? Not brushing their teeth or hair?

#4: Changes with Meals or Medications:

  • Maybe the person is missing medications or taking medications wrong.
  • As a clinician, unplanned weight loss was often the first sign that a person was experiencing memory problems. They have been forgetting to eat or missing meals.
  • When offered a hot meal, would they rather eat sweets?
  • Do they forget to turn the oven or stove off when cooking?

What Can You Do?

If your loved one is experiencing one or more problems in these four areas, it would be wise to consult with your primary care provider. They are likely not safe or becoming not safe to live alone. These signs may indicate a significant safety issue, so better to address them sooner rather than later, to avoid severe or even fatal accidents.

You can also contact the Alzheimer’s Association Chapter in your community or your local Area Agency on Aging. These two organizations will typically know who can help families providing care at a distance and give you valuable information and connect you to services.

Thank you for watching this video or listening to the podcast today. I hope these four Signs, questions, and recommendations have been helpful to you.



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About Melissa:

Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN. I am a nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator and nurse researcher with over 25 years of experience in the aging and long-term care healthcare space. You can visit my website at MelissaBPhD.com to learn more about me, how you can work with me directly,
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