I Don’t Want My Parents to Live Alone. What Can I Do?

Amanda Lambert

Most older adults state they want to age in place in their own home. But what do you do if your aging parents need assistance and support but refuse to move?

This common dilemma can be upsetting for everyone involved if it isn’t handled with respect and compassion. No one likes to admit that they can no longer manage their own healthcare and household.

Many older adults have an understandable fear of being placed in a nursing home or another care facility.

Many families work with their aging parents to reach an agreement to do everything they can to honor the desire to stay home, but it isn’t easy and it can be expensive.

Most long-term care settings are private pay and not covered under insurance which can be a point of argument against moving. Let’s look at possible senior care options to keep your parents independent but also keep them safe.

Let’s take a look at some of the senior living and other living arrangements that could be appealing and the first steps to providing some level of care and oversight of the health issues affecting your loved one.

Choosing a senior home
for an elderly parent starts with assessing what is available and what your parent might agree to.

How to Start the Discussion

Remember that your parents have the right to make their own decisions. Try to refrain from pushing or insisting on any one particular idea.

Work together by having an honest and open discussion about the warning signs you may have observed and your concern for their health and well-being.

Think about your parent’s aging as a process of adjusting to their future decline. Before things get too complicated, talk with your parents about health care proxy, financial power of attorney, and what quality of life means to them.

  • Take your time during these discussions. There could be a lot of resistance. Come back another day if things get contentious or your parents get fatigued.

  • Be specific about the concerns you have. Is one of your parents having mobility problems or difficulty managing personal hygiene? The purpose behind identifying problems is not to cause shame but to express your concern.

  • Bring other adult children into the discussions, so no one feels left out. Just be careful to avoid the perception that you are “ganging up” on your parents.

  • Have options and solutions available to discuss. Be flexible and avoid pressing what you think is the best solution. Be willing to reach a consensus and meet your parents halfway.

  • If your parent has dementia, you may need to be more assertive in making decisions but always follow guidelines for communicating with someone who has cognitive impairment.

5 Care Options To Consider For Your Senior Parents

1. In-Home Care

In-home care is a logical option because your parent remains in their home with professional caregivers coming to the home for companionship and help with activities of daily living, transportation, shopping, and cooking.

The downsides? The cost can add up, especially for full-time care, and there is a national shortage of caregivers.

Additionally, most states prohibit caregivers from providing any daily tasks that involve medical care which means that your parent’s needs may exceed what a caregiver can legally offer.

2. Family Caregiver

Most caregiving in the US is provided by family members. However, caregiving can become unsustainable if you have a job and other responsibilities.

Plus, if your parent has complex health problems or medical conditions, you may not be trained to address those.

If your parent begins to have a cognitive impairment, it could be a sign of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and requires a significant level of oversight and management. 

3. Independent Living

Independent living might be a good choice if your parent requires minimal assistance but can enjoy the amenities that independent living often offers. However, independent living is still a big step because it involves your aging parent leaving their home.

Most, but not all, independent living communities have assisted living services or apartments as part of the larger community

However, if your parent has memory loss that puts their safety at risk, memory care may be a more appropriate setting. Although independent living typically provides housekeeping, meals, activities, and laundry services, they don’t have hands-on care.

4. Geriatric Care Manager

When talking with an aging parent about your concerns, a geriatric care manager can be valuable. A geriatric care manager is a professional whose assessment and recommendation may carry more weight.

Let your parent know that your goal is to keep them at home, and you want to know how to make that possible. A care manager’s recommendation of in-home care may be more persuasive than your suggestion.

5. Living With Your Parents

Moving in with your parents or having them live with you is a huge decision. While some families do it and can be successful, ask yourself the following questions to determine whether it's the right coice for you:

  • Am I prepared to assume more significant caregiving duties over time?

    • Does the home need accessibility modifications to be safe either now or in the future?

    • What about issues of privacy and other household members?

    • Will there be shared expenses, and how are those determined?

    • What do you do if your parents need more assistance than can be provided at home?

    • What if the situation doesn’t work out for either party? Is there a plan B?

Remember to Have a Plan for Your Parents Living Alone

Despite your best efforts, your parents may insist on living alone and refuse all outside assistance or a move to senior living. If this happens, accept it but have a backup plan should there be a crisis or a change of heart.

Explore all of the options we have mentioned and be ready to help your parents make the best decision to support their well-being while keeping them safe.