More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia among older people. The course of Alzheimer’s differs from person to person – the symptoms of early stages of the disease could range from impaired reasoning, spatial issues and vision problems. However, as the disease advances the patient is unable to carry out even the simplest of tasks and has to depend completely on others for basic care.
Choosing the ‘Care’ With Care
In many cases, living at home is not an option for senior people with Alzheimer’s disease, since providing the level of care needed by such patients is not always possible in the domestic environment. Even though it is a difficult decision to make, the intensive care needed as the disease progresses makes it an unavoidable decision that needs to be taken. In such cases, there are a number of facilities available that can provide different levels of care, depending on the needs of the patient. Here are a few things that you should look into before shifting your loved ones into the hands of another caregiver.
- Visit a range of available residential care facilities before taking a decision. Talk to the staff as well as the residents.
- Visit the facilities at different times of the day, especially mealtimes.
- When you visit a care facility, insist on seeing the latest survey/inspection report and Special Care Unit Disclosure form.
- Ask the care facility about room availability and cost and get yourself listed in the waiting list, if there is any, before taking a final decision.
- Ask the facility about its participation in Medicare or Medicaid.
‘Care’ Options For Seniors With Alzheimer’s Disease Nursing Homes
For patients with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, nursing homes are often considered to be the best option. They provide round-the-clock care for the patients and are ideal for a long-term treatment plan. Most nursing homes look after all the basic needs of Alzheimer’s patients, such as nutrition, recreation and medical care.
Assisted living/ Supported Care
Assisted living offers a combination of housing, nutrition, medical care and supportive services for the senior Alzheimer’s patients. Assisted living is not monitored by the federal government, unlike the nursing homes that are usually licensed and regulated by the federal government. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America assisted living is defined as “a long-term care option that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed.”
Alzheimer’s special care units (SCUs)
SCUs are specially designed to meet the specific needs of seniors with Alzheimer’s dementias. In such units, a number of persons suffering from dementia are grouped on a floor or a unit. Most SCUs provide trained staff and specialized activities for residents with behavioral needs.
Moving a loved one out of home can be a stressful experience, and some family members may be ridden with feelings of guilt and unhappiness. However, it is important to consider the fact that regardless of where the care for your loved one takes place, the decision is about making sure that your loved one receives the right kind of care needed.