Is your parent or loved one experiencing substantial memory loss? Are you wondering whether they have Alzheimer’s disease?
There are about 5 million people who have Alzheimer’s, which is the most common kind of dementia. As the “baby boomer” generation ages, that figure is expected to rise to almost 15 million people in the next few decades.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about your parent’s options, this article’s for you. We’ll talk about a few approaches to Alzheimer’s care and help you get started with finding a long-term solution.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
If you’re wondering whether your parent has Alzheimer’s, there are a few questions to ask yourself.
How severe is their memory loss? Has their personality changed for the worse? Are they able to work or drive any more?
The onset of Alzheimer’s can include symptoms like having trouble forming sentences, confusion that leads to anger, and a decline in handwriting.
Later, people with Alzheimer’s might wander, finding themselves in places and not knowing exactly how they got there.
They might have trouble picking out clothing that’s appropriate for the weather. They might also have noticeable personality changes, especially in the evening hours.
Care options for people with Alzheimer’s do vary according to the progression of their disease. Late-stage Alzheimer’s can cause incontinence, confusion, and the inability to eat solid food.
In-Home Nursing Care
The positive aspect of caring for someone with dementia is that you don’t have to do it alone. Once your parent or loved one has a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, you should be able to get in-home nursing care.
An in-home nurse can help administer medication, check on your parent’s mental health, and make sure that they’re eating regularly.
They can also help with taking baths, getting dressed, and going for regular walks. A skilled nurse may also be able to provide in-home exercise options for the person with Alzheimer’s.
The thing to remember with in-home nursing care is that it’s rarely round-the-clock. As your loved one’s symptoms progress, you may need to look into more comprehensive care.
If you’ve been providing all of the care up until this point, you might want to ask about respite care. Respite care gives the caregiver a few days off so that they can focus on their own mental and physical health.
You may also be able to deduct some of the costs of your loved one’s care. There’s typically a deductible, but after that you can claim dental care, eye exams, and some medications.
You can also claim mileage, parking expenses, and even rent if you have a live-in nurse.
Nursing Homes and Assisted Living
If your loved one is living with an advanced case of Alzheimer’s or other dementia, you may want to look into assisted living or nursing homes.
The goal of an Alzheimer’s and dementia care facility is to preserve your parent’s independence. Assisted living options are often much like apartments, just with a few safety features built in.
Nurses can help people with Alzheimer’s prepare meals, take their medication, and get regular physical activity. There may be cameras or “panic buttons” in case of an unexpected fall.
People who live in assisted living facilities also have the chance to interact with other residents. Dementia can cause feelings of depression and isolation, so socializing is a wonderful option to have.
Nursing homes also have 24-hour care and options for activities. Many nursing homes have dedicated staff who run music and exercise programs for residents.
If you’re thinking that a nursing home could be a good option, try to tour at least two or three before making your final decision.
Specialized Alzheimer’s Care
When you’re looking for options for elderly care, it’s important to focus on safety. Some nursing homes have specialized Alzheimer’s care units with locked doors to prevent wandering.
If your parent or loved one has progressed to a later stage of Alzheimer’s, living at home may not be an option anymore. While you may want to keep them at home for as long as you can, they may need a special “memory care” unit.
The good thing about memory care is that it’s tailored to the individual. Staff might play music from your parent’s youth or show them pictures of your family.
Both activities are designed to stimulate memory. Residents also exercise, watch television, and do art projects. They may also enjoy relaxing outdoors in a safe environment.
Memory care facilities don’t usually have individual kitchens, but they do place a strong emphasis on eating well. Many people with Alzheimer’s have little to no appetite, so staff does its best to make food appealing and easy to eat.
When you visit any care facility, talk with the nurses and take a look at the residents. Residents should all be dressed nicely, showered, and be addressed politely by the staff.
Get Started with Care Options
Finding appropriate Alzheimer’s care can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Take your time and visit local nursing homes or talk to an in-home nursing provider.
It can be hard to focus on yourself, but try to check in at least once per day. Are you eating? Are you sleeping enough?
Caretaker burnout is real. If you’re struggling to work and take care of your loved one, it’s okay to get some extra help. Knowing that your loved one has doctors and nurses at their side can give you real peace of mind.
The great thing about a memory care facility or nursing home is that you can be 100% certain of your loved one’s safety.
You don’t have to worry about nighttime wandering, and you don’t have to worry about falls.
We have two locations and offer residential options, support groups, and memory care. We have hairdressers who keep our residents looking great, and we offer customized meal plans.
If you’re considering getting started with a residential facility, give us a call. We can arrange a tour and answer any questions you might have. We look forward to meeting you and your loved one!