Caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease or another dementia poses great difficulties. And while every family has different needs, preferences, and constraints to consider, the in-home care of an ailing family member requires significant social, financial, and personal sacrifices. There often comes a time when the older individual is best cared for in a nursing home facility. This is not an easy decision, to say the least, and it may seem even more difficult than the actual caregiving itself.
During this decision process, take into account the following considerations when making your decision:
- People with Alzheimer's or other dementia need a safe, structured environment. You may be able to provide this at home. In other cases, nursing home placement may be a better choice.
- People with dementia usually need an increasing level of care and assistance as time goes on. Eventually, your relative may need to be moved to a long-term care community.
- By using adult day care programs and part-time help, whether hired or offered by other family members and friends, you may be able to keep your relative at home longer.
- Remember that your physical and emotional health is as important as that of the person for whom you are providing care.
- Deciding to put your family member in a nursing home is not a sign of failure in your role as a caregiver.
What kinds of long-term care facilities are available?
"Nursing home" is commonly used when referring to any long-term care community, but there are several types of long-term care communities. Each provides different levels of medical care, personal assistance, programs, and support services. The quality and costs of care and services at long-term care communities vary widely, and options vary from community to community.
Assisted living communities usually provide private, apartment-style housing and offer a variety of services. These services may include meals, cleaning, laundry services, and help with personal needs such as bathing, grooming and dressing. Assisted living communities do not provide medical care. This type of community may be appropriate for people with early or mild Alzheimer's disease or other dementia that can't live alone but can still function fairly well on their own.
Residential care facilities, which include board-and-care homes and retirement homes, usually offer a higher level of supervision. They offer meals, laundry, cleaning services, and assistance with other personal needs. They do not provide medical care. This type of facility may be appropriate for a person with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease of other dementia who needs daily assistance and supervision but does not require daily nursing care.
Nursing homes provide skilled nursing care up to 24 hours a day. All aspects of care are provided, including medical attention, medication, housing, meals, laundry, help with personal needs, individualized dietary needs management, and other support services. A nursing home may be the most appropriate choice for many people with advanced dementia.