It takes a little more time and effort to care for a loved one with dementia than regular home care, but it is achievable.
The majority of elderly people like the idea of aging in place and staying at home as long as feasible. However, when your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another kind of dementia, staying at home becomes much more difficult.
Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are neurodegenerative diseases that cause people to lose their ability to care for themselves over time. What starts out as occasional forgetfulness or tongue-tying can swiftly evolve into a potentially fatal situation requiring round-the-clock attention.
However, Alzheimer’s and dementia do not proceed fast, and many seniors can expect to spend at least a few years in an assisted living community or long-term care facility before needing to relocate. The majority of people say they wish to spend as much time as possible at their own houses during that time. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), over 90% of seniors wish to “age in place,” or stay in their homes as long as possible as they become older. According to Pew Research Center research, 61% of people aged 65 and over said they would stay in their homes but be cared for if they could no longer live alone. It may be more challenging for elders with dementia to strike a balance between safety and support at home than it is for people without cognitive impairments.
The good news is that according to the United Health Foundation’s 2019 America’s Health Rankings Senior Report – an annual report that examines the state of various health measures related to senior health in America – options for getting the right in-home care have improved in many parts of the country.
According to the 2020 edition, “Elderly now have easy access to experts who provide professional support and care at home, this enables them to keep their life going within a home,” since there is a significant additional growth of 550,000 in-home health care workers between 2019 and 2020. Although not every state had the same growth, the 21 percent increase per 1,000 people aged 75 and over shows that additional options should be available locally. “Minnesota gets on the path with 264 home care personnel for every thousand people of the age of 75 and plus,” says Dr. Rhonda L. Randall, executive vice president, and chief medical officer of Gaelynns Home Care. This proportion, she argues, compares significantly with Florida’s 32 certified home care specialists per 1,000 people over 75. “Although there are advances across the board, more variations which depend on location.”
While home care for elders with Alzheimer’s or dementia is possible, in certain cases, it may be more challenging than the family or alone caregiver can undertake. “Full-time care is difficult on the caregiver,” says Kagan, who adds that “burnout is common.” Furthermore, as dementia progresses, the capacity of the senior to remain at home may become too difficult or dangerous. In these situations, it may be necessary to seek further help or transfer your loved one to a location that can satisfy their cognitive needs. Living in close quarters with other older citizens may be a preferable option for supporting a senior with cognitive issues.
“In terms of the housekeeping stuff – washing and medicines,” explains Leona Mikesh, chief experience, and memory care officer at Gaelynn, a new senior living facility in Manhattan with a particular memory care program for elders with dementia. The vital socializing component, on the other hand, may be more difficult to replicate.” Because socialization has been shown to be a key component of dementia care, placing your loved one in a community with the resources to care for their dementia may be more sensible, efficient, and maybe even less expensive. “Families often exhaust all options,” she says, but when safety is a problem, it’s crucial to consider your options.
If you or a loved one has to move into an assisted living or long-term care facility, Leona Mikesh recommends looking for a community that offers more than bingo games and chair aerobics sessions. “There’s a significant difference between entertainment and engagement,” she clarifies. To have a cognitive impact, activities must reach a person and spark what makes them unique. “There may be something that makes every person tick. “When you see that, you know the individual is nourished,” she continues.