How do you know when it’s the right time?
Knowing when someone with dementia should move into residential or nursing care can be difficult. The main thing to think about is whether your loved one’s needs are met at home; is moving into a care home in their best interest?
When should a person with dementia go into a care home?
If a person’s dementia has progressed far enough that they need more care and support than you can provide, it may be time for them to go into a care home. At this point, they may need 24-hour care.
Dementia is progressive, meaning the person with the condition will require more care and support as time goes on. As your loved one’s condition declines, their needs increase and you may not be able to fully meet these needs despite your best efforts.
This is one example of the number of reasons why it might be time for people with dementia to move into a care home. Other reasons include hospital admissions, worry about your loved one’s safety or their behaviour becomes unmanageable.
There is no cure for dementia and the physical and mental state of a person living with the condition will only worsen. There will never be a perfect time because of the stress and emotional difficulties , but if they need 24-hour supervision and support to stay safe and to ensure good quality of life, the only option may be to move into residential care.
One idea is to write a list of your loved one’s needs and if you are able to support them. For example:
My wife cannot safely go outside on her own – I can only take her outside in the mornings Can I guarantee she won’t leave the house without me? – No, it worries me when I’m not there If you go down the list and notice that you are unable to provide the care and support necessary for your loved one, taking into account your other commitments in life, it may the right time to consider residential care.
If your loved one is unable to live independently and cannot care for themselves anymore, moving into a residential setting will give them the benefit of 24-hour care and support. This will give you peace of mind that your loved one is safe and that they receive the right level of care.
Why It is Beneficial to Start a Memory Care Search Early
From finding and touring memory care residences to finalizing legal documents to managing the memory care move, it will take at least 2 months to sort out the logistics of moving your loved one into memory care. For most families, 3-4 months is more normal. Financial hurdles, like getting covered by Medicaid obtaining VA pension benefits other payment support will take even longer. Even with professional financial planning assistance , it can take 6 months to arrange payment.
If you are considering memory care at an unknown point in the future, then it is probably time to start investigating the process now.
It is highly advantageous to be prepared when the times comes for memory care rather than to be scrambling. The onset of the need for memory care is just as like to be sudden as it is to be gradual. Patient behavior can change dramatically accelerating the need for memory care. However, unexpected changes with primary caregivers is just as likely to initiative the need. Since many caregivers are spouses and elderly themselves and they often push themselves beyond their own limits, caregiver injuries are more common than thought.
Another benefit of starting early is that it can let your loved one actually have a say in the decision. Making the decision in later stages of the disease, when the largest stakeholder can’t communicate well because of symptoms, will only exacerbate emotions including the guilty feelings that often come with this change.
The sooner the preparation begins, the more likely it is to be a positive transition.
Concerns About Day-to-Day Care
The most common concern of family caregivers is that their loved one isn’t getting good care. This can be hard to adjust to, because while family caregivers typically care for one person, nursing assistants are usually assigned to eight or more people at a time. And while many have experience and are sensitive to the needs of the people in their care, some have little training.
The best way to deal with any concerns about care is to talk to the staff member involved in a calm way. Most of the time, the issue can be solved this way. If not, talk to the administrator or nursing director.
It’s also a good idea to build good relationships with the care providers. Remember that staff members work hard, have schedules and other pressures, and want to be treated with consideration and respect. Visit the facility often, and share what you know. Tell them what’s being done well, and gently let them know what you’d like to see and when you don’t see it.
Caregiving for a loved one with memory care is a 24/7 occupation.
Without engaging in regular respite care , it becomes impossible to sustain the situation. Even with qualified, in-home care providers, those with mid to later stages of memory loss require increasing levels of medical assistance, and the enormity of unceasing tasks is more than almost any household can accommodate.
If you’re approaching, or have already reached, a point where caregiving is all-consuming, it’s time to consider memory care.
Similarly, if you find yourself a member of the “Sandwich Generation” , stuck between an aging parent requiring care, a job and the needs of your own family, memory care is a must or else you’ll quickly go from being a caregiver to needing a caregiver of your own.
As memory loss sets in, so do the abilities to drive a car , make grocery lists, prepare food, remember daily medications, or even remember to eat.
Losing track of days and times has a disastrous effect on the circadian rhythm, contributing to Sundowner’s syndrome, insomnia and other sleep disorders that take on toll on one’s health and well-being.
Physical signs include:
Rapid weight loss
Lack of food in the fridge or cabinets
Evidence of medication not taken (or overtaken)
Neglected personal hygiene
Hunched or sunken posture
Inexplicable bruises, breaks and/or injuries
Unpaid bills and missed appointments
The inability to remember how to get home or where one is going puts patients at risk for injury, getting lost or becoming victims of scams and potentially violent crimes.
Similarly, those with dementia are more prone to being injured at home and are less able to remember how to seek help, forgetting to press a “life alert’ button or how to use the phone to call 911.
If you find yourself worrying about a loved ones’ well-being on a regular basis, the transition to memory care brings peace of mind while simultaneously ensuring s/he is supported, attended to and cared for day-in and day-out.
Finding the right care home for someone with dementia
To find the best care home according to your loved one’s needs, the first thing to do is to request a needs assessment from your local council’s social services.
Your local authority will make recommendations about your loved one’s care and also conduct a financial assessment as they may contribute to some of the costs.
As mentioned earlier, planning in advance will make the choice of care home easier as you will have more information about your loved one’s preferences and wishes.
A residential care home will be able to provide personal care, such as washing and dressing while a nursing home have a qualified nurse on site 24-hours a day.