Receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia can be devastating for both the senior and their family. However, the senior care industry has changed significantly over the past decade, giving plenty of nursing home alternatives when it comes to long term care plans. But how can you choose which option is best for your and your loved one? Here is a quick breakdown of nursing home alternatives that are available to you.
The first choice for many seniors and family members is for the newly diagnosed person to remain at their home for as long as possible. While this is certainly an attainable choice, especially during the early stages of the disease, it is wise for family members to have a plan in place for what will happen once safety or other issues begin to arise.
Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias are progressive, which means that the disease will continue to get worse. Some seniors experience issues with judgment, safety, aggression, suspicion, or wandering; each of these can make living independently and alone nearly impossible. However, there are support options to put in place that may allow your family member to continue living at home a bit longer. Consider family support or even home health options as you navigate the disease.
Independent Living with Support
If staying at home isn’t in the cards for your loved one, independent living communities might be an option for your situation. In these communities, residents live in an apartment but are also able to partake in certain amenities such as prepared meals in a dining room, activities and even trips. However, as the disease progresses, your loved one will need additional support to remain safe within the community. Home health staff are often allowed inside of independent living communities on an individual contracts, and social work staff on-site can help you choose a home health vendor that is vetted and reliable
Assisted living is another alternative that provides additional medical and social support for seniors with declining physical and cognitive health. Featuring healthy meals, social activities and 24 hour nursing assistants that can help with personal care needs, assisted living can be a wonderful place for seniors with early to mid stage dementia to live. However, as behaviors such as wandering or aggression increase, assisted living staff may encourage family members to hire additional caregivers privately to attend to more complex needs for your loved one.
Ideally, a memory care community is the best option for seniors living with any type of dementia. Not only are there specialized staff members, such as nurses and assistants, that are trained in issues with dementia care, memory care communities also offer a structured day of activities that help to prevent behaviors associated with anxiety and depression. Meals are prepared to preserve dignity and independence, and environmental features are designed to keep residents safe and secure. The team at a memory care community is committed to providing care that is unique to the needs of each individual resident, and often involves family members in the life of the community and care plans.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia are very unique, and their habits or concerns will change as the disease progresses. It is best for families to plan for the long term and eliminate multiple moves across levels of care as much as possible.