If a loved one has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you’re likely experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions and concerns—worry about how you’ll be able to provide the care your loved one needs, uncertainty in what to expect from the disease, fear that your loved one will change, angry that this has happened to your family.
Adjusting to the reality of dementia isn’t easy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t need to shoulder the responsibility of caregiving alone.
The more support you have and the more informed you are, the better you will be able to help your loved one adjust to their changing abilities.
Be Prepared and Aware.
One of the first things you need to know is that Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia advances in stages:
Stage 1: No impairment
Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline (may appear like normal forgetfulness)
Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline (forgetfulness is more noticeable)
Stage 4: Early stage Alzheimer’s (forgetfulness begins to impact everyday life)
Stage 5: Mid-stage Alzheimer’s (forgetfulness starts to affect functionality)
Stage 6: Moderately Severe Alzheimer’s (regular assistance is needed; personality may change)
Stage 7: Late Stage Alzheimer’s (loss of awareness and muscular control)
Older adults may be able to continue living at home unassisted during the earliest stages of the disease, but will require an increasing amount of professional senior care as cognitive decline progresses.
If your loved one has expressed the desire to remain at home for as long as possible, there are a number of resources that can make aging in place possible. Many nursing homes and retirement communities in Cincinnati and across the United States offer memory support services:
- Companion services: Companions provide adult day care in the home when you are not available to provide supervision and keep your loved one company.
- Homemaker services. Senior living aides offer help with household tasks like cleaning, shopping, and meal preparation.
- Personal care services. Professional caregivers provide the assistance your loved one needs to perform everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, toileting, and eating.
- Home healthcare. Licensed health professionals provide regular medical assistance and supervision.
The amount of in-home care your loved one needs will increase as Alzheimer’s and dementia progresses, carrying costs that can rapidly add-up. At a certain point, a senior living community may be a safer and more cost-effective option.
There are a number of different types of senior living communities that offer a certain amount of specialized care and memory support services.
1. Personal Care
Personal care provides the step between living independently and living in a nursing home.
Older adults still maintain their own residences within the senior living community, with the added perk of communal amenities and regularly scheduled outings and events that they would not have in a private home.
However, in personal care, older adults who need some regular assistance to live alone have the comfort of an on-call staff as well as a number of optional supportive services and specialized care.
Note: Personal care is not a governmentally regulated aspect of senior healthcare, so definitions of personal care (referred to as assisted living in some states) vary from state to state and may or may not offer services specifically designed for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
2. Skilled Nursing Care
Skilled nursing care offers older adults around-the-clock support and long-term medical care.
Episcopal Church Home offers skilled nursing care with memory support services designed to meet the needs of residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia. If your loved one is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, a community that offers a skilled nursing program, where qualified professionals are on-call to meet the specialized daily needs of residents, may be the best choice.
Note: Some senior living communities offer skilled care services that cater to older adults with memory conditions, but be aware that not all skilled nursing programs are trained to deal with dementia. Know what kind of qualifications and certifications a community has beforehand.
3. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
CCRCs like Episcopal Church Home offer a full spectrum of living options and senior care and services in the same community, allowing residents to transition between different levels of care (independent, personal care and skilled nursing) based on their current needs.
Are you interested in learning more about dementia? We’ve created a Dementia Guidebook as a resource to caregivers of dementia patients so that your loved one ages as successfully as possible.