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7 Signs Your Elderly Loved One Shouldn’t Live Alone

Written by OurParents Staff
 about the author
4 minute readLast updated February 24, 2024

Have you seen changes in your parent’s upkeep of their home or personal appearance? Are bills piling up? These might be indicators that they need extra help. Many seniors aim to stay in their homes as they grow older, but a point may come when it’s no longer a safe option for them to live alone. Identifying this moment can be challenging, especially if your loved one is reluctant to admit they need help.

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Understanding what to do when your elderly parent can’t live alone is crucial for their safety and well-being. This guide will help you determine when an elderly person can’t live alone and how to discuss alternative living arrangements, such as moving in with you or transitioning to an assisted living facility.
Know the signs your loved one needs help and have a well-informed plan for the future. This can provide peace of mind as you navigate this important life transition together. Read on for the seven signs that suggest your aging parent may be unable to live alone much longer.

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Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.

1. They fall down doing everyday activities

A single slip can send your elderly parent to the hospital, making falls a major concern. Each year, nearly 3 million seniors visit the ER due to falls, with around 300,000 hospitalized for hip fractures.[01] It’s often after such incidents that families realize that their elderly parents may not be able to live alone anymore.
Minor falls or balance issues can be problematic, especially if your loved one mentions falling during daily activities. However, they might not always speak up about these falls, so take note of frequent bruises or any injuries that pop up. These can serve as warning signs your parent needs a supportive living arrangement that would better ensure their safety. You may also consider looking into products designed to help prevent falls as added security when you’re away.

2. Their home is messy and out of sorts when you visit

As aging progresses, routine household chores can become challenging, especially for those with dementia or memory issues who may forget or overlook these tasks. Noticing a sink full of dishes, dusty floors, or an overgrown lawn are common signs that it’s time to discuss alternative living arrangements. These situations not only create an unpleasant environment but also pose risks like attracting pests or increasing the chance of falls due to clutter or slippery conditions.

3. They almost never leave the house

Social engagement is essential for everyone, regardless of age. If your loved one has withdrawn from social activities and become inactive, they might be facing senior loneliness or depression. Older adults are more likely to experience depression if they have serious health problems or are severely limited by their health and can’t perform their daily activities without help.[02]
Elderly parents living alone may believe they are managing well even if they feel depression symptoms and their quality of life is in decline. If you notice your loved one continuously refusing or withdrawing from social interaction, it could be time to consider alternative living arrangements. Transitioning your elderly loved one to an assisted living facility could provide them with a more active and social environment and offer you greater peace of mind.

4. They miss multiple bill payments

Managing finances and paying bills is a monthly necessity. However, for seniors with dementia or memory issues, remembering these tasks can be challenging. If your loved one begins missing bill payments, receives late fees, or faces utilities being shut off, it’s a clear sign that living alone may no longer be the best option. Finding a better living arrangement to help your loved one continue to meet their financial obligations is crucial for their well-being.

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5. They’re losing weight

Weight loss in seniors can sometimes signal difficulty in self-care. Paired with other signs, it may indicate that living alone is no longer a viable option. Buying groceries and preparing meals requires effort, energy, and memory, which can be challenging for some seniors. If you notice significant weight loss in your loved one, it could mean they are struggling to prepare meals and could benefit from alternative living arrangements to meet their nutritional needs.

6. They’re neglecting their hygiene

Bad breath or body odor may indicate a lapse in daily hygiene and personal care practices, like brushing teeth or bathing. If your loved one is neglecting basic hygiene, it’s a significant sign they may need help with their activities of daily living (ADLs) and should consider a more supportive living arrangement. Assisted living is specifically designed to give senior residents support with their personal care routine, so they can have the freedom to focus on other things.

7. Unopened mail starts piling up around the house

If you observe stacks of unopened mail accumulating, it might indicate neglect of daily responsibilities. While some mail is junk, important letters or bills could be mixed in, signaling a decline in managing basic tasks.

Next steps

If you notice these signs, you should start a serious discussion with your loved one about their living arrangements. Whether you’re considering moving them into your home or an assisted living facility, addressing their ability to manage their activities of daily living (ADLs) is crucial.
Before initiating this conversation, research local assisted living options to provide specific examples of nearby facilities. Showcase each community’s amenities, activities, and social engagement opportunities. Your preparation and research can help lead the conversation and ensure your loved one finds a community that will improve their quality of life and well-being.
If you don’t have the time to do this research on your own, contact one of our free-to-you Senior Care Advisors. Our advisors are situated all over the country. They will listen to your needs, budget, and preferences and provide you with a tailored list of nursing home or assisted living facility options in your area. Advisors can even help guide you through the process of touring and selecting communities.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, May 12). Facts about falls.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 14). Depression is not a normal part of growing older.

Meet the Author
OurParents Staff

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