Like many families, you may want to keep your loved one in his or her home for as long as possible. That’s how family becomes the primary caregivers: providing compassion, familiarity, and comfort to patients.
“Mom doesn’t want to move and we owe her so much. We’ll be glad to care for her.”
Long term care responsibilities can be stressful for unpaid caregivers and family members are not immune to the hardships. It is important to recognize what you have at risk. Many family caregivers experience stress on finances, stress on employment, and challenged physical and emotional health.
“I want to do this but I can’t do it alone.”
There are a lot of resources available to you. Enlisting help from the very beginning can make your commitment to your loved one truly a show of love and devotion, just as you intend it to be.
Respite care is simply providing the primary caregiver with a break from full-time engagement. Respite care providers can be found in local chapters of non-profit organizations and church communities. They usually help with:
- Social visits to provide new interaction
- Meal delivery
- Short, local excursions
- Supervision while the care giver is out
Adult Day Services
Adult day services operate during business hours and give assistance to caregivers for longer periods of time. They are usually on-site at the provider’s facility, not in your loved-one’s home. Adult day services can be interactive communities similar to one your loved one would have experienced at work, at church, or in a community center.
Adult day services are usually operated by business people and charge fees for hourly attendance, workshop participation, or specific events. Some of the interactive services they offer are:
- Activities like crafts and lessons
- Social events like dances or games
- Short trips like a museum or garden tour
- Projects like tree planting or charity volunteering
Home Health Services
Home health services visit your loved one’s home and provide more than just social interaction. Agencies that supply these in-home caregivers usually offer a menu of assistance services. Home health service providers will have more sophisticated hiring practices, training programs, and insurance liabilities and procedures.
Some of the services home health providers offer are:
- Personal hygiene maintenance like bathing and dressing
- Meal preparation and feeding
- Physical therapy
- Healthcare monitoring
Choosing in-home care can be a difficult decision. Your loved one’s condition should guide your care planning. Build a team to help share the responsibility and communicate with your loved one regarding the escalation to residential care as the AD progresses.
Residential Care Choices
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease. As it advances, AD makes it harder and harder for your loved one to care for him or her self.
You may have kept him in his own home for as long as you could. You probably provided care yourself, as a family, and lined up as many of the community care options as you could. Now, as AD has progressed, your loved one has begun to require more assistance in daily personal functions.
If you need full time help, you have options. Many families decide to seek living arrangements that facilitate full-time care.
Some of these options are assisted living facilities, memory care facilities, and nursing homes. Just as AD is a progressive disease, each of these residential care options offers an advanced level of assistance to your loved one.
Assisted Living Facilities
Offering limited assistance with daily care such as cooking, assisted living facilities preserve a healthy amount of independence for your loved one. On-site staff can keep an eye out for your loved one, assist if he is struggling, and engage him in social community-driven activities like crafts and movie nights.
Assisted living facilities typically do not provide advanced medical care. These facilities are best suited for residents with mild or moderate AD.
Memory Care Facilities
Specializing in care of patients with dementia or AD, memory care facilities offer assistance with basic personal functions like meal preparation, bathing, and dressing. On-site staff provide attention and care, plan activities, and facilitate interaction between residents.
The advantages of a memory-care facility are the safety and security measures the facility takes in response to the unique needs of memory-loss patients. For example, memory care facilities will often have secured exits. They may also hang visual cues on a hallway wall to help your loved one navigate his surroundings confidently.
These facilities are designed to provide medical care for residents. In addition to room and board and activities for social health, nursing homes are staffed with clinical care providers. Nursing homes are heavily regulated and frequently inspected. They adhere to hospital standards for care provider licensing and facility conditions.
With different levels of care providers and different facilities in each category, it can be hard to determine what facility, if any, is best for your loved one.
“Dad doesn’t want to move. How do we know if it’s the best thing for him?”
Choosing a residential care facility is a complex decision. The main question is: Are your loved one’s needs being met in his current living situation?
Some specific needs you and your family should discuss are:
- Does your loved one need help preparing meals?
- Does your loved one have difficulty maintaining personal hygiene?
- Is your loved one’s home no longer well-kept?
- Has your loved one lost track of personal finances?
AD and dementia patients have changing needs. When those needs can be met with an in-home solution, your family may feel that choice is best. It is important to consider what your loved one’s future needs might be. Is your current solution sustainable? For how long? What then?