Living Alone with Dementia Heightens Safety and Health Risks

According to a study in JAMA Network Open, when older Americans have dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment and live alone, they are likely to have increased safety and health risks. It is estimated that more than 4 million Americans face this situation, and a large percentage are ineligible for subsidized services like home-care aides. These isolated individuals are at risk for medication mix-ups, unsafe driving, wandering, and missing important medical appointments. The study team interviewed 76 health care providers in California, Michigan and Texas, ranging from doctors to home care aides. They
raised concerns about mentally impaired patients who live alone lacking advocates, having incomplete medical histories, and requiring difficult interventions to meet their needs. Many had no emergency contacts listed. Those living alone were most likely to be women and likely to be poorer. The study said these factors increase their risk for untreated medical conditions, self-neglect, malnutrition, and falls.
A school of gerontology leader who reviewed the findings said, “Over 80% of long-term services and support for people is provided by friends and family, and if someone doesn’t have friends and family, either living with them or in the community, they need care, especially if someone’s living with dementia.” She added that many of these people actually avoid care, fearing their freedom might be taken away, such as being placed in a nursing home. The study’s lead author said, “Given the needs of older adults who live alone with dementia, it would be wise to devote government resources for programs supporting older adults who live alone with dementia.”

Did you find our information helpful? 

We are always adding new information and resources and are open to suggestions for improvement. We can do even more with your contributions.

Service Areas Details:

  • Boulder County and City of Boulder
  • Central Mountains: Chaffee, Custer, Fremont, Lake
  • City and County of Denver
  • City of Aurora
  • Colorado Springs Metro area: Counties of El Paso, Park, Teller
  • Denver Metro area: Counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Gilpin, Jefferson
  • Eastern Plains: Counties of Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, Lincoln
  • Larimer County and City of Fort Collins
    Las Animas/ Huerfano: Counties of Huerfano, Las Animas
  • Northeast Colorado: Counties of Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Sedgwick, Washington, Yuma
  • Northwest: Counties of Garfield, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt
  • Pueblo County and City of Pueblo
  • San Juan Region: Counties of Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan
  • South Central Colorado: Counties of Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, Saguache
  • Southeast Colorado: Baca, Bent, Crowley, Kiowa, Prowers, Otero
  • Summit Region: Counties of Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Pitkin, Summit
  • Weld County
  • West Central: Counties of Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, Ouray, San Miguel