It is critical to explore possible care options and living arrangements ahead of time when your parent or loved one has Alzheimer's in order to make sound decisions. Delaying or procrastinating until a crisis occurs is likely to result in making a poor choice or finding only a "quick fix". Some diligent research and planning can help identify a viable long term care solution.
There is no right answer to "What type of care is best?" The stage of Alzheimer's disease determines type and how much care is required in addition to the appropriate setting. Your budget will also play a large role when making long-term care choices as it can be financially draining. Caring for a parent with Alzheimer's is without question an extremely challenging experience for most families. With that said however, caring for your loved one at home is likely to be the best overall option especially when other support is available. Your loved one with dementia caused by other non-Alzheimer's' diseases suffers equally and has similar care needs. The following overview of Alzheimer's and dementia care options outlines some pros and cons to consider when deciding what's best for your situation.
Home Care is typically the first choice of care for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer's disease in early and middle stages. Many families find it best to keep their parents at home in familiar and comfortable surroundings with minimal disruption to familiar routines. However it is crucial right from the beginning to recognize the need to hire outside help such as a companion, nursing assistant or homemaker in order to make homecare viable. Home Care is generally a less costly option for Alzheimer's care especially if you or other family is able to share in the caregiving duties. However with that said the biggest concern is the huge amount of stress imposed on caregivers due to demands of caring for Alzheimer's patients. As a home care nurse, I have encountered many families with the best intentions simply "burn out". Neglecting other responsibilities, lacking confidence in caregiving skills, and resenting demands placed on your time, are but a few common complaints. It is emotionally taxing on families to witness first-hand their loved one's loss of cognitive function even to the point of not recognizing them. The basic key to success for in home care of your loved ones is to allow other caregivers to relieve you of some of the day to day burdensome responsibilities.
Adult Day Care allows your loved ones the comforts of home and at the same time gives families the respite they need. This care is usually reasonable priced and may even be subsidized by certain local and state resources. Offered in community centers, churches, and through some senior programs, Adult Day Care provides social, recreational, meals, and even transportation services. Be sure to take advantage of this valuable resource if offered in your community as unfortunately day care isn't available everywhere. Some Adult day care centers are designed specifically for those with Alzheimer's or dementia but may cost more. Home care and adult day care used in combination for your Alzheimer's loved one is generally more budget friendly. Exercising prudence through supplementing homecare with adult day care stretches your dollars to make staying at home a more affordable long term solution.
Assisted Living is a possible residential care option for seniors with Alzheimer's in early to middle stages that cannot remain at home. ALFs typically offer personal care assistance, supportive services such as housekeeping and transportation. This housing may be ideal for those needing to relocate as they are able to live more independently and among their peers. Trained staff along with specialized Alzheimer wings and dementia programs in many facilities can make this a sensible choice. Most specialized dementia units in Assisted Living have extra staffing and secure lock down areas for safety when wandering becomes a problem. However as the disease progresses through middle and late stage you might find it necessary to supplement assisted living care through hiring private caregivers. Hiring outside help from home care agencies if allowed by the facility is expensive but may delay or avoid another move.
Skilled Care or Nursing Homes are needed when loved ones with advanced Alzheimer's are dependent on 24 hour supervision or skilled care provided by licensed nurses and other options are no longer feasible. Use our Nursing Home Inspector tool to compare best rated performing facilities in your area. Locate a facility that is close to family for close monitoring with a special care unit that is designed to meet the unique needs of your loved one's with Alzheimer's.