Care needs for those with Alzheimer’s disease can change as the stages of the disease progress. Creating a plan soon after diagnosis will help ensure that care requests from your loved one are considered and incorporated into their life with Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s affects each person differently, though you can expect some symptoms to worsen over time. Eventually, people with the disease require round-the-clock care, so it’s important to plan for your loved one’s care and well-being soon after diagnosis.
Alzheimer’s Care Options
Different factors will determine which Alzheimer’s care options you pursue for a loved one.
In the early stages of the disease, families often choose home care so that their loved one can remain in familiar surroundings and enjoy as much independence as possible.
As the disease progresses, however, residential care may be necessary to provide your loved one with the total care he or she will need.
An Early Choice: Home Care for Alzheimer’s
At home, your loved one with Alzheimer’s will benefit from well-known sights and sounds, but also from a few changes to make the home safe and easy-to-navigate. The Alzheimer’s Association recommends looking at the home “through the eyes of a person with dementia,” without creating too restrictive a setting. Here are just a few recommended home safety tips:
- Remove objects that could cause injury
- Lock hazardous areas, such as stairwells, workrooms and storage areas
- Make sure fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors work
- Keep stairways well lit
- Lock medications in a drawer or cabinet
- Set the water temperature to 120 degrees or less to prevent scalding
Relief for Caregivers: Formal At-Home Care
Being a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s brings with it enormous stress and challenges. So having relief on a regular basis is important to a caregiver’s health and well-being. Caregivers may turn to family, friends or neighbors for a break, or to more formal respite care, such as:
1. Home health services: Depending on the agency, in-home care services will provide home health aides, skilled nursing care, companion services or even help with household chores. In turn, caregivers have time to enjoy social outings, run personal errands, participate in support groups or simply relax.
2. Adult day centers: A safe environment for your loved one, adult day centers offer structured activities and programs, such as music or art therapy, and a means for your loved one to socialize. Many adult day centers also provide meals and transportation.
Later Stages: Considering Residential Care
As Alzheimer’s progresses, care needs of your loved one will mount. From meal preparation and dressing, to bathing and personal care, everyday tasks will become more difficult. During these later stages, you might consider one of these residential care options:
1. Assisted living: For individuals who require assistance with tasks such as dressing or preparing meals but do not need skilled medical care, assisted living might deliver the right amount of support. In these communities, residents can have their own apartment or suite or share a residence to help reduce costs. Along with a 24-hour staff, typical assisted living services include recreational activities, housekeeping, laundry and transportation.
2. Nursing home: When your loved one reaches a point of needing skilled nursing care, you might consider a nursing home. These facilities offer room and board, plus round-the-clock medical care and supervision. They will also work with you regarding care planning, special nutrition issues, other medical concerns and spiritual needs.
3. Alzheimer’s special care units (SCU’s): Special memory care units within residential facilities are designed for people with memory problems. Generally, these units group together residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia on their own floor or wing of a larger care residence. Among the many services in an Alzheimer’s SCU, you should expect that staff has received specialized training in care needs for people with Alzheimer’s, programming caters to the needs of people with memory problems and safety measures, such as secured exits, are ensured.
Which Alzheimer’s Care Option Best Suits Your Loved One?
The disease stage and your loved one’s specific care needs will determine what type of Alzheimer’s care you choose. Each setting is different, but talk with your loved one in the early stages of the disease, to get input from family members and draft a plan.
Finances, location and other issues specific to your loved one’s health should all be part of the conversation.
If you need help searching for memory care for a loved one, visit: Alzheimer’s Care, where you can browse through memory care communities and speak with an A Place for Mom Senior Living Advisor who can answer your questions and guide you to communities that best meet your needs.
What care options did you choose for your loved one with Alzheimer’s? Please share your story in the comments below.
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