7 Warning Signs That Your Parent Might Not Be Safe On Their Own

If you have a parent living on their own, chances are you’re checking in on them as the holidays approach. After all, social isolation has been a big issue for seniors throughout the pandemic. And feelings of loneliness can be particularly acute during the holidays, especially this year.

On your last visit, you discovered something that alarmed you. Perhaps you ran across a
month’s worth of untaken medications still in their blister packs. Or your parent admitted to falling several times and not activating the alarm system you got them because they “didn’t want to bother anyone.”


Until then, you thought they were coping all right. Sure, they seem a bit frail these days. And maybe you always knew they weren’t being entirely forthcoming with you about their day-to-day struggles. But you’ve always accepted that they have the right to make their own decisions and live their own life, including living with a certain amount of risk.

Now you wonder how much risk is too much. Is it time to insist they move some place safer? You know they’ll push back, but you don’t want to wait for some horrible accident to happen.

Warning signs to look out for

You may wonder whether you’re overreacting. Well, if you see any of the following red flags, it’s probably time to act.

  1. Loss of weight – can lead to a whole host of health problems
  2. Not taking medications – another serious health risk
  3. Leaving the stove on – extremely unsafe for your parent and potentially others
  4. Unexplained bruises – might be a sign they’ve fallen – if they fall again and can’t get up, that’s a medical emergency
  5. Going missing – this can happen in the early stages of dementia – half of people with
    dementia who go missing for longer than 24 hours end up seriously injured or die
  6. Social isolation – a pervasive problem during the pandemic – loneliness can actually
    shorten a person’s life expectancy
  7. Caregiver stress – if you reach the breaking point and have a health crisis, that can leave
    your parent without support, creating another crisis

Steps to take

Deciding what steps to take in response to any of these red flags can be tricky. Sometimes they can be addressed by making sure your parent gets a little extra support at home. Other times that might not be sufficient and a move to a retirement home or a long-term care home might be the best option.

That said, just because a person is in an unsafe living situation doesn’t mean they can be removed from that situation against their will. And quite frankly, you’d rather not be so heavy-handed anyway.

Getting help

It can all be a bit complicated and overwhelming. Understanding what options are available. Having the conversation with your parent.

That’s why it’s good to get the help of an outsider. Someone trustworthy who’s experienced at helping families work through these sorts of situations.

At Tea and Toast, we offer different services for families who are considering either retirement living or long-term care in the Ottawa area.

  • Free retirement home search and navigation
  • Family mediation and support services
  • Emergency relocation and crisis placement
  • Long-term care navigation

Have you heard about our upcoming online course? Roadmap to Long Term Care in Ontario, is a first of its kind. In this course, you will learn all about the long term care industry, ´╗┐and strategies on how to navigate it. 

Roadmap to Long Term Care in Ontario will be released in February


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