If you're caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer's, it's important to consider long-term care options. Here's help getting started.
Keeping your loved one at home
Home care for a loved one who has Alzheimer's is often highly valued. To make it possible — and support your own health and well-being — you might consider various home care resources. For example:
- Respite care. You might call on family, friends or neighbors to stay with your loved one when you need a break. If you'd prefer a more formal arrangement, consider respite care services provided by community organizations.
- Adult day centers. Adult day centers provide socialization and activities for adults in need of assistance. Some programs are specifically designed for people who have Alzheimer's disease. Staff members lead various activities, such as music programs and support groups. Some programs provide transportation and meals.
- Home health services. Home health services help with personal care, such as eating, bathing, dressing, grooming and toileting. Some agencies provide help with meal preparation and household chores. Basic nursing care — such as help with medications, wound care and medical equipment — is typically available. Some agencies provide additional services, such as physical therapy.
Considering residential care options
As Alzheimer's progresses, your loved one will need more help. At some point, you might want to consider alternative housing options in your community. For example:
- Assisted living. If your loved one needs support with personal care and daily activities, such as meal preparation, but doesn't need skilled medical care, he or she might be well-suited for an assisted living facility. These facilities are also known as board and care, adult living or supported care. Your loved one might live in an apartment or suite of his or her own or share a living space with other residents.
- Specialized dementia care facilities. If your loved one needs more supervision or help than what's available through a traditional assisted living facility, he or she might benefit from "memory care" assisted living. These facilities generally offer specialized staff training and activity-based programming. Visual cues, such as signs or pictures, are often used to help residents orient themselves. Enhanced safety measures such as secured exits are typical.
- Nursing home. If your loved one needs skilled medical care, a nursing home might be the best option. Nursing homes provide room and board and round-the-clock supervision and medical care. Some nursing homes have special units for people who have Alzheimer's — designed so that the environment, activities, philosophy of care and staff training revolve around the special needs of people who have Alzheimer's.
Choosing the type of care
To determine which type of care is best for your loved one, consider the following questions:
- Does your loved one need help preparing meals or taking care of other personal needs?
- Does your loved one need help taking medications or managing other medical problems, such as heart disease or diabetes?
- Does your loved one need 24-hour supervision or special care? If so, what type of skills must a caregiver have to provide that care?
- Would you prefer a facility that specializes in Alzheimer's care?
- How will you cover the costs of your loved one's care?
Keep in mind that some settings aren't designed for people who have Alzheimer's — and as your loved one's needs change, options for care might change as well. Any new care arrangement you make will involve blending your capabilities as a caregiver with your loved one's needs.
Sharing the burden improves care
Remember that seeking help can ease the physical and emotional burdens of caregiving — and the earlier you consider the options, the better. If you wait until a crisis arises, you might be pressured to make a hasty decision. Instead, take time now to evaluate your loved one's future options.