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For family members, caregivers and health-care professionals

Determining when living alone is no longer safe or desirable: When people with dementia no longer understand their own safety and can’t look after themselves, family members and health-care professionals may need to weigh the risks of living alone against the benefits of supporting him to live at home. In many families, caregiving falls to one person. Hold a family meeting when he is at an early stage of the disease, so that you can plan what each family member can realistically do to help, now and in the future.

Barriers within the health-care, community care and legal systems: Family members and health-care professionals often face barriers when trying to determine if a move from home is needed or if additional support can be provided in the home. These barriers include the difficulty of sharing information under privacy and confidentiality regulations; the limited availability of services to support independent living; and the complexities of competency legislation (the laws that determine when a person is no longer able to make certain decisions).

Preferred choice
Living environments that provide safety, quality of life and support

People with Alzheimer’s disease need to live in safe environments that support quality of life. The amount and type of support available are important factors in determining if a person can live alone. For example, a person with a large family, or someone who lives in a community with many services may be better able to live alone than someone with no family, living in a community with limited services.

Family members and health-care professionals can help reduce risks for people with dementia who want to live alone. For example, if he frequently leaves the stove on, consider disconnecting the stove and finding other ways to provide hot food, such as Meals on Wheels.

Wherever possible, the person with the disease should take part in discussions concerning their own future.

Some factors to consider:
Overall well-being
  • What is his quality of life at home?
  • Is there a good balance of stimulation during the day?
  • Could he benefit from the level of care and support provided by another environment, such as a son or daughter’s home, retirement home or long-term care home?
  • Is there help from community support agencies?


  • Is he able to take medication properly?
  • If sick, would he be able to understand and take appropriate action, such as calling for help?
  • Is he able to take care of personal hygiene, such as bathing and toileting?
  • Are there current or past health problems that might put him at risk of harm?


  • Is he able to maintain a proper weight?
  • Is he able to eat nutritiously throughout the day?
  • Is he able to store and prepare foods properly?
  • Is he eating inappropriately (cat food)?


  • Is she at risk of harm? If yes, is the amount of risk acceptable to her? To family members? To caregivers?
  • Is it possible to find a level of risk with which everyone is comfortable? For example, the risk of falling on the stairs might be considered an acceptable risk if she has no problems with balance or walking.
  • Does the she pose a risk to others? For example, does she live in an apartment and cause fires with the stove or cigarettes?
  • Is she able to react and take appropriate action in an emergency, such as a fire?
  • Is her home safe? For example, are stairs well lit? Are there handrails?
  • Do individuals or organizations check in with her regularly and in the event of a blackout or other emergency situations?


  • Can she handle day-to-day financial transactions, such as keeping track of bills and paying bills promptly?
  • Is she at risk of exploitation or abuse regarding finances?

Can she handle day-to-day financial transactions, such as keeping track of bills and paying bills promptly?

The following day-to-day strategies may help support a person with Alzheimer’s disease who lives alone