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Can people with dementia live alone at home? - Carers UK Forum

Can people with dementia live alone at home?

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Is it ever possible for someone with dementia to live on their own in their own home?

If it's just a case that they are no longer capable of preparing their own meals, or doing their own laundry and paperwork and so on? If they have outside carers several times a day, to get them up, help them with a weekly shower/bath, and do their meals and then get them to bed? If the person with dementia is not a night wanderer, and can toilet themselves, and possibly make a cup of tea for themselves, and turn the TV on and off themselves, could they be left to live in their house on their own, including overnight?

I am trying to assess whether MIL can ever be 'let out' of the Abbeyfield she is in (which she does not want to be in), without her moving in with me.

I don't know whether others here have experience of an elderly person with developing dementia (or, if not actually clinical dementia, then second childhood and 'helplessness' in terms of their daily lives), who is not living in a Home, or with a live-in carer.

Thank you for any advice, experience etc. My BIL is arriving from the USA this week, and this is a subject we are going to have to get to grips with, in terms of MIL's future.
the simple answer to your question is - yes

the more complicated answer starts with "it depends......................."

Dementia is not a 'black and white' illness, there are many shades of grey and so much depends on the 'original' personality of the person affected. So you will find that those who have pretty much been 'looked after' all their lives probably won't cope as well as those who have always been independent.

I have a neighbour, an elderly gentleman, who is in the mid stages of dementia - he lives alone, has carers daily along with a daily visit from Meals on Wheels and still manages his daily trip to the newsagents for a paper. But, even though he's still relatively independent we all know him and watch out for him.

My Mother had a neighbour - an elderly lady who had never married (although at one time she did have a 'partner' :) ), in her youth she was a dancer and travelled the world so could certainly be said to be have an independent nature - she too coped living alone with carers and meals on wheels until relatively recently. But when it was found that she wasn't, in fact, eating the meals on wheels and had a few unfortunate incidents with money (it was being stolen by the carers :( ) her family decided she needed residential 24/7 care.

My own Mother had never been independent and was used to being 'looked after'; firstly by her parents and elder siblings (she was the 'baby' of the family) and then by her husband (my Dad) - she never had to worry about money, paying the bills or maintaining the house, Dad saw to all that and after he died I took over. As her Alzheimer's progressed she couldn't be 'trusted' to cook for herself, change her clothes, pay bills or do any of the myriad things that we all do each day automatically. I went to live with her to care for her until it got to the stage where I couldn't cope any longer (especially couldn't cope with the continual lack of sleep due to her nightmares and nocturnal wanderings !) and after a lot of heart-searching the decision was made for her to be moved into a residential care home.

Each and every case is different Jenny; you are probably in the best position to know if your MiL could still live independently as you see her the most; it's a shame that she doesn't like the Abbeyfield place as that is the 'best of both worlds' - on the one hand she has a degree of independence and on the other, there are people around to ensure that she is safe and looked after. Would it be worth investigating other supported living places that she may prefer ?
There is no black and white answer to this, Jenny, as Susie has said.

My mum does have dementia and lives alone during the week; she also has varius physical ailments including very limited mobility. I move in at weekends and also spend one evening a week there. She is incapable of preparing meals / drinks, bathing herself (she can wash hands and face), doing laundry, shopping, paperwork, you name it. She has four care visits a day and sometimes she will let the careworkers help her :ohmy: . I do a weekly bath at weekends and all other issues.

The problem I am facing, and many others, is that it is a degenerative disease and also one day is better than another. Today she is lucid, yesterday she was not. What will she be capable of in one week, one month, one year's time? Only this morning mum accused me of wanting to "put her away". She does not want to go into a home and Social Services do not want her to, despite her GP contacting them to say she needs residential care. I am of mixed views; on the one hand, the longer she can keep her independence the better, on the other I would have a much easier life if she were to be in a home.

Incidentally, if your MIL is not self-funding, the care visits will be very limited and possiby only 20 mins each. There is obviously a limit to what can be done.

In short, IF your MIL has dementia, I think she is better off where she is. I would not rely on minimum wage careworkers to provide to all her needs.
of course they can, that is if it`s at no extra cost to the state, once the bills pile up the social services will look for , not the best care but the cheapest form of care and as carers if we care for someone with not just dementia but other disabilities it is cheaper for the state to watch us struggle on the lowest benefit payable saving the so called hard working uk tax payer billions tis all about money and not to provide what is the best care for someone disabled ...
Thank you so much for your answers. They are rather what I thought, as in 'it depends'....

The deep sad irony is that yes, she is actually much better off at the Abbeyfield, because she is well looked after and need do nothing for herself, but she doesn't like it there because she is so bored all the time, and 'lives' for me taking her out for a drive, or back here for tea and supper (where she is currently). I have been wondering whether it might yet be possible for her to have her own place, and replace the Abbeyfield care with external carers (yes, all self-funded for the time being, like the Abbeyfield, while her funds last), and whether she would simply be happier in a place that wasn't a 'home'.

Personally, I would far prefer her to stay at the Abbeyfield, as I can, if I want, simply be away for days (eg, I've been moving her flat contents while it's been sold, been away in Glasgow for days at a time), without worrying about her. But she is just so utterly bored and only wants to get out of the place.

Sadly, though, I also strongly suspect that even if she could manage in a place of her own with external carers, she would still not be happy as I would not be there 24x7 to look after her.

So, back we go to the real dreadful heartbreak of it all - that her happiness can only be achieved at the expense of mine.

But that is enough of that, and thank you for your answers, which I will put into the debate I know I need to have with my BIL about MIL's future. It's all just so sad and depressing, with no 'Happy Ending' possible. So sad.
g.herschel wrote:of course they can, that is if it`s at no extra cost to the state, once the bills pile up the social services will look for , not the best care but the cheapest form of care and as carers if we care for someone with not just dementia but other disabilities it is cheaper for the state to watch us struggle on the lowest benefit payable saving the so called hard working uk tax payer billions tis all about money and not to provide what is the best care for someone disabled ...
Of course they can George? I would say by the responses above that is by no means a certainty. Unfortunately there are some disabled/elderly who cannot be cared for at home..and no amount of extra money can fix that.
As a carers organisation we need to accept that what suits one person won't suit another. We can only share our own experiences in the hope they might help someone else. My lovely mum in law developed dementia, she was hopelessly confused and ended up in a secure unit. Fortunately she had a stroke six months later, and passed away. She had been married for over 60 years but removed her wedding ring as she didn't remember getting married, and didn't recognise her husband. She thought I was my sister in law (I'm at least 6" taller) etc. etc. My wonderful grandmother also ended up in a nursing home, she had been one of the first women radiographers in the UK, another lovely person who had a very sad end. I think it would be fair to say that "up to a point" dementia sufferers can live at home, but the level of support required will gradually increase. In time, the level of support needed will increase to a point where residential care is almost inevitable, unless a life threatening illness develops, which kills them first. My family history makes me very worried about what will happen to me.
Bowlingbun - I also worry about what would happen to me. I was told by mum's consultant that old-age dementia is not hereditary but of course there are no guarantees.

Jenny - could your MIL not remain where she is, but propped up by an external carer to take her on trips out? That way she would have the safety of Abbeyfield but also some more external stimulation.

Incidentally, what do you think of Abbeyfield? This is one of the homes I would consider for mum when the time comes ....
Anne, what a brilliant idea. It would be worth using some of MIL's money to pay a carer, thus allowing Jenny a bit of a life of her own without the guilt!
Yes, it is definitely a good idea, but..... (I hate to shoot it down, and maybe I'm being stupid to do so)....but....I think bottom line is she doesn't want 'someone else' to take her out, she wants ME.

As I say, I may be stupid in that respect, because there has been a general outing from the Abbeyfield, to a local mini stately home for a little garden wander and an afternoon tea, and when I asked her about it she said it had been rubbish.....(oh dear....)

Re the Abbeyfield overall - well, here are my thoughts, Anne. I think it is very good, IF the elderly person still is able to motivate themselves. When I go there, I can often see some of the residents (they are only a dozen, and I think they are all women, say, 80-90 roughly), chatting together in the lounge, or on the terrace, and once there were four of them playing scrabble and so on, and sometimes they were in one of the resident's own rooms, chatting away. I think if the elderly person can still do that, and is interested in that (some clearly go out for walks, there is a church opposite, and a post box, though no shops nearby, the high street is probably about one or two bus stops away), then the Abbeyfield would do fine.

It seems 'affordable' (it is one of the Abbeyfield Society's watchwords), and my MIL is paying £1850 all found (meals, laundry, electricity etc)(a telephone would be extra) and that is for a nice spacious room, with a single bed, a small ensuite (loo and basin) (but with her own private shower room just opposite across the corridor), and, best of all, patio doors out to a small paved private patio and the large garden beyond.

They do do a 'little' entertaining. Sometimes if I go over too early, I find they are all in the lounge having a kind of 'chair exercise' session, and someone is reading something to them, possibly a sort of quizz (MIL seems to be enjoying herself, which is good!), but I don't think it's a great deal more than that (other than a very occasional outing, as I said above). I think the 'activities' are actually via volunteers possibly? (In contrast, the mega-expensive luxury Home she can't afford has all sorts of entertainments included for the huge amount of money - about £3-4k pm!).

They are required to make their own breakfast (food provided) in the little communal kitchen (this is what MIL wouldn't/couldn't do, hence having to have the early morning carer, which is actually brilliant, as she does all the showering, clean clothes, etc etc) (£15 for 45 minutes), and then lunch is provided in the very nice dining room where they sit at communal tables, and then there is, I think, after lunch coffee in the lounge, then supper at 6 pm. Sunday lunch is very good and has sherry in the lounge and wine with the meal. Sunday supper however is simply a plat of sandwiches they collect (the staff go off duty then), so Sundays can seem like a long day - it's the day most are visited or collected however.

Overall, as I say, IF the resident is compos mentes (which they are supposed to be in order to be eligible!) and still has an interest in things (eg, chatting, crosswords, going for walks, etc) then it would be absolutely fine I should think. But when their minds are begining to give up, as with MIL, then it gets boring as there isn't a great deal of externally provided stimulation.

Each resident needs a 'sponsor' - ie, a 'responsible adult'! - to ensure the Abbeyfield is not 'dumped' with the resident and no one else to consult/refer to about their care.

Finally, not sure about all the Abbeyfields, but at MIL's they have a guest room which is not only for respite care (ie, if someone lives with a relative, and the relative wants a holiday), but also to 'try out' whether it would be OK to live there. The respite room is furnished, the residence rooms are self-furnished.

Also, one of the best aspects is that it is only a month-on-month contract - you can leave at any time, no committment!

Do please ask me anything else that I haven't mentioned. I forgot to say how excellent the live-in house manager is, plus the rooms all have emergency cords etc etc. Personaly, I think the place is very good indeed - it's just that poor MIL doesn't!!!! (sigh).

PS - hope this post is not too long.
119 posts