Dementia care offers comprehensive support to people living with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Following a dementia diagnosis, you or your loved one may worry that life is over, that independence is impossible, or that people with dementia cannot continue to lead a meaningful existence. The reality is that many people with dementia continue living independently, and the right support can maximize quality of life even for people with advanced dementia.
Sooner or later, though, most people with dementia need comprehensive care. Switching to dementia care can greatly improve their quality of life, help them make the most of their abilities, and relieve caregiver burnout. But when should you make the switch? Here’s how to tell whether it’s time to transition from assisted living to dementia care.
Dementia Care vs. Assisted Living: What’s the Difference?
There’s a great deal of crossover between assisted living and dementia care. With both options, a person gets help with activities of daily living. In a thriving luxury community like Arbor, there are also plenty of activities as well as a focus on improving life and health with good nutrition, exercise, and socialization.
Yet many people with dementia will eventually need dementia care, which offers more comprehensive and dementia-specific help. Some of the differences include:
- Safety and security. Because people with dementia tend to wander, dementia care communities enact more protocols to keep them safe, such as alarms in their beds or rooms.
- More supervision. People with dementia may need more emotional, physical, and practical support.
- Dementia-friendly activities. As a person’s brain changes, so too do their interests and abilities. Dementia communities focus on activities that support residents’ brains without stressing or alienating them.
- Eating support. Swallowing disorders are common with dementia. Some people with dementia also need help remembering to eat or enjoying the food they once loved. Dementia communities place a strong emphasis on quality nutrition.
- Caregiver support. Dementia is tough on families. Conflict, grief, and mixed emotions are all common. The best dementia communities offer plenty of caregiver support.
The extra support helps keep people with dementia safe while allowing them to pursue new activities and remain socially and emotionally connected. This extra support comes with a higher price tag, though, so it’s important not to move until your loved one is truly ready. Moreover, for people with early stage dementia, the extra support of a dementia care community may feel restrictive or isolating.
Signs It’s Time to Transition to Dementia Care
So when should your loved one transition to dementia care? Some signs it may be time to make the move include:
- Your loved one seems confused, disoriented, or scared.
- Your loved one struggles to participate in activities at their assisted living community.
- Your loved one has begun wandering.
- The senior in your life has new behaviors that are challenging for caregivers to manage.
- Your loved one’s memory problems have gotten much worse, and they may not recognize people they love.
- Your loved one has serious physical ailments related to their dementia, such as a swallowing disorder or trouble walking.
- Your loved one is not able to stay safe alone in their room.
- Your loved one needs more stimulation, but the activities at their assisted living community are beyond their abilities.
- You are stepping in to provide more care and support than you once did.
- The assisted living community where your loved one lives suggests moving them to dementia care or has recommended bringing in additional help via a nurse or home health aide.
- The family is fighting more often about your loved one’s care.
- How Arbor Helps
Dementia is a frightening diagnosis. It can leave a whole family in a state of uncertainty and panic. Yet dementia does not have to mark the end of a fulfilling and joyous life. Arbor believes that people with dementia deserve to make the most of their capabilities. We help seniors feel less isolated, less afraid, and more deeply connected to what matters most. To learn more about making the most of life with dementia, download our free guide, “Living Well with Dementia.”