An Alzheimer’s patient requires varying levels of care over the course of the disease. Initially you may be able to provide care at home, but as your loved one’s health declines, you may have to consider long-term care at a facility.
Choosing the Right Care for Alzheimer’s
If possible, talk to your loved ones about their healthcare options while they are able to make such decisions. This will take the guesswork out of choosing a long-term care facility when the time comes. Deciding on the best care for Alzheimer’s depends on a number of factors, including cost, convenience and level of care required.
Home Care for Alzheimer’s
According to the American Health Assistance Foundation, approximately 70 percent of Alzheimer’s patients receive some care at home. A number of services are available to help ease the burden of care giving at home:
- Adult day services, also known as “elder care programs,” offer planned group activities to elderly adults in need of some level of assistance and supervision. Day programs allow individuals with Alzheimer’s to socialize with their peers and enjoy stimulating, therapeutic activities. Some programs are designed specifically for Alzheimer’s patients.
- Home health services include everyday Alzheimer’s nursing care. A home health nurse comes to your home and helps with tasks such as bathing, dressing and feeding. In addition to care for Alzheimer’s, some home health services may provide help with household chores and errands.
- Respite care offers caregivers temporary relief from their duties. Depending on the type of care, respite care may take place in the home or at a facility. If at a facility, respite care can last for a few hours up to a few weeks at a time. The caregiver can take a few hours to run errands or see a movie or a few weeks for a vacation.
Alzheimer’s Care Homes
In the early stages of the disease, individuals with Alzheimer’s may be capable of taking care of many of their own basic needs. Assisted living facilities allow patients with mild to moderate impairment to remain independent. Facility staff members clean the premises, prepare meals and offer personal care as needed.
Patients with moderate to severe impairment lose their ability to care for themselves. Nursing homes offer 24-hour personal and medical care. Patients live in a private or shared room that they can decorate with their personal belongings. Some nursing homes have Alzheimer’s nursing care units with specially trained staff.
Transitioning to an Alzheimer’s Nursing Care Facility
You can do a lot to help ease the transition to a care facility. On the day of the move, make the transition during the patient’s best time of day and try to maintain a normal routine as much as possible. Decorate the room with family photographs and special items to give it a homey feel. Label family photos with the names of family members so the nursing staff can talk about them. After the move, visit as frequently as possible and encourage others to do so as well. This helps patients feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.
Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). CarefinderTM. Retrieved June 26, 2010, from http://www.alz.org/carefinder/index.asp.
American Health Assistance Foundation. (n.d.). The facts on Alzheimer’s disease. Retrieved June 26, 2010, from http://www.ahaf.org/alzheimers/about/understanding/facts.html.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (n.d.). Caregivers: In depth. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caregivers/MY00395/TAB=indepth.
U.S. National Institutes of Health: National Institute on Aging. (n.d.). Nursing homes: Making the right choice. Retrieved June 25, 2010, from http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/nursinghomes.htm.