by Patricia LaCroix, contributing writer
While it might be a given that those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia need help, where that help needs to take place can be less apparent.
It would be a quick and easy assumption to think that proper dementia care can only take place in a facility. But that’s simply not true. In fact, there are a number of reasons why it makes sense for dementia patients to receive care and assistance right in their own homes.
Let’s explore some of the reasons why in-home care might be more appropriate for your loved one who suffers from dementia.
Dealing properly with the different stages of dementia
Dementia rarely appears without warning. Typically, symptoms develop over time. Often, the milder symptoms can get ignored or dismissed as nothing serious. But as time goes on, the symptoms of dementia become more and more apparent.
Likewise, care for someone suffering with dementia is rarely “one size fits all.” Care for the elderly with dementia requires what’s appropriate at that moment and stage of the person’s disease.
Initially, all that might be required is the occasional visit from a caregiver to ensure that everything is well. As time goes by, however, the patient’s needs will grow, and as that happens, care for the dementia patient needs to be adjusted accordingly. Perhaps the caregiver needs to visit the patient more often. More tasks, such as medication reminders, meal preparation, and aid with transportation might need to be added to the care plan.
Eventually, the patient might require 24-hour companionship and care. But even all-day and all-night care can still be provided within the loved one’s own home, via many care agencies, including Care & Comfort at Home, a care provider with locations that serve Chicagoland as well as the Denver area.
In-home caregiving agencies, such as Care & Comfort at Home, regularly access clients and review memory care plans, to ensure that dementia patients are always receiving what they need, according to the current state and stage of their illness. CLICK HERE to learn more about all the different types of non-medical in-home care that can be provided at home.
Having more knowledge and control
When your loved one is moved into a facility, inevitably you, as his or her relative or close friend, give up some control over how the care provided. It might become more difficult to get information on how your loved one is doing.
And even seeing your loved one might be more controlled. It’s not unusual for a senior care facility to have visiting hours, and for family and friends to be restricted in how often and when the senior can be seen.
Never has this more apparent than during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many seniors in nursing homes affected by the virus found themselves in a lockdown situation, unable to have any guests or visitors, past the facility’s own employees.
You also might lose a role in the decision-making process of the care that’s to be given to your loved one, including being able to decide who personally provides the care. Often, in a senior care facility, many different caregivers are providing care to one person. When you consider that a dementia patient is already very confused, dealing socially with many different caregivers during the course of a day can be even more confusing and frustrating.
Home sweet home
As dementia patients are often confused, having unfamiliar surroundings can add even more to that confusion. While home might still be a familiar place to them, especially at the start of their disease, a new environment will immediately be strange and uncomfortable. They might have trouble understanding why they were moved and have to leave the home that they’ve known for many, many years.
At home, on the other hand, depending on the extent of their memory loss, dementia patients might still know where things are and where things belong. They don’t have to worry about learning anything new about their surroundings. Being in a familiar environment with familiar people can help avoid additional anxiety for the dementia sufferer.
Don’t provide in-home memory care alone
While memory care can definitely be provided to your loved one at home— and perhaps even should be done there — that doesn’t necessarily mean that providing memory care is easy. Caregiving is a difficult task in any given situation. It’s even more difficult when caring for someone with dementia.
For one thing, caring for a dementia patient can go on for a very long period of time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias provide care for a longer duration than caregivers of those with other health conditions (79 percent versus 66 percent). More than half of family caregivers of dementia patients that begin to provide memory care can expect to still be doing so more than four years later.
The CDC also reports that the demands of memory care can negatively affect caregivers’ ability to take care of themselves. Family caregivers of dementia patients are at a greater risk for anxiety, depression, and a generally poorer quality of life.
The care that needs to be provided might also be very specific and special. Some dementia patients require more than just non-medical care. Some require assistance that only a medical professional, such as a home health nurse or certified nursing assistant (CNA) can provide. Care & Comfort at Home is unique as an in-home care agency, as its Chicago-area location is licensed to provide home health care to its clients, as well as non-medical care. CLICK HERE to check out just some of the medical assistance Care & Comfort at Home can provide for such seniors via its skilled nursing services.
In-home care agencies are skilled and experienced at assessing the need for care as well as coming up with a proper plan to extend and provide such care. They provide respite for family members who are also providing care, helping to relieve the overwhelm and exhaustion that often accompanies memory care. Agency caregivers also help free up relatives of dementia patients to live their own adult lives — ones that often include caring for and enjoying their own children, as well as their spouses. They give family caregivers the chance to enjoy their own family and lives once again.
Some information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.