Caregiving Questions: When Can a Family Caregiver Leave a Loved One Home Alone?

Cleansing Water home health care companions and CNAsResponsible caregivers are faced with challenging questions and important decisions every day. One of these decisions is whether — and for how long — you can leave the person in your care alone.

No matter how devoted or dedicated you are to the person in your care, you have to find time to take care of yourself and your own needs as well. Certainly, it is challenging to carry out daily tasks and errands while balancing your responsibilities as a caregiver for an elderly parent, a disabled child, a new baby, or a family member recovering from illness or surgery.

As a caregiver, you may have to decide if it is still possible to leave your loved one alone for an hour, afternoon, or even an entire day. Will they wander away? Will they let a stranger into the house?

Here are 10 questions that can help you determine if it is safe to leave the person in your care home alone.

  1. Are they likely to leave home unattended and wander off?
  2. If they go outside, do they recognize where they live and understand how to get back inside their house?
  3. Are they capable of calling for emergency services if necessary? Do they know how and when to dial 911? Are they able to communicate problems over the phone?
  4. Can they get to the bathroom by themselves and go to the toilet without assistance?
  5. Are they in danger of falling and injuring themselves?
  6. Are they frightened to be left home alone?
  7. Can they prepare a meal for themselves? Can they safely use the stove and remember to turn it off?
  8. Will they recognize strangers if they come to the home, and do they have the common sense to determine whether someone can be safely allowed into the home?
  9. Can they identify danger warnings in the house, such as fire alarms or smoke?
  10. Do they know where their medication is located? Do they understand which medication(s) to take, when to take them, and the correct dosages?

If you answer ‘no’ to any of the questions, you should not leave the person in your care home alone–even for short periods of time. Even if you feel your loved one can remain at home safely for now, be sure to reassess the situation regularly.

Caregiving responsibilities can change rapidly, depending on each individual situation. Changes in the physical, emotional, mental and cognitive condition of your family member can require changes in how you manage your caregiving responsibilities.

When You Need a Break From Caregiving Responsibilities, Cleansing Water Can Help!

Cleansing Water is a fully-licensed and insured Virginia home health care agency providing compassionate in-home health care, nursing and companion services for seniors and other individuals throughout Fauquier, Culpeper, Rappahannock, Prince William, Loudoun and Warren Counties, Virginia. For more information about our services, call us at (540) 341-0212 or email