According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 70% of individuals turning 65 years old, which accounts for roughly 6 million seniors, can expect to use some form of long-term care during their lives. Keeping that statistic in mind it is alarming to see that more than 5 million Americans, within the 65 and up age group, are living with Alzheimer’s (the most common type of Dementia). This means that most seniors using a long-term care facility have Alzheimer’s. The Alzheimer’s Association shows every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops this disease; unfortunately, this figure is predicted to be cut in half by mid-century with someone being diagnosed every 33 seconds.
When one develops Alzheimer’s (or another dementia related disease) many loved ones feel it is their duty to take care of them, yet becoming a caretaker can take a massive toll on family members. It is also important to remember that the disease will get worse overtime, and eventually require around the clock care. Although it is admirable to want to be the one whom your loved one can depend on, sometimes that means knowing when you do not have the resources, or the experience, to continue to give them the best care possible. If adamant about continuing care at home there’s in-home help options, adult day care, and respite care. In-home help is a care-giver you can hire to aid ranging from a few hours a week to having them live in the home. Adult daycare programs can specialize in memory care, and operate during the weekdays so family members can continue with their day-to-day responsibilities. Finally respite care, is short-term care where the patient is placed in a facility temporarily, giving family members a block of time to rest, and take care of other things.
Despite the variety of options that can allow for a loved one to remain at home, there may come a time when the disease reaches a point that exceeds a caregiver’s capability. Deciding to move a loved one to a facility is not a sign of weakness, or ambivalence towards them, it is quite the opposite. Realizing when it is time to take that step shows a great amount of strength in being willing to provide a family member with the best care possible, even if that means moving.
If answering these questions leads you to believe moving your loved one to an assisted living facility is the best option The Alzheimer’s Association, along with AgingCare.com, provides helpful guidelines in choosing the best facility. Planning to move your loved one ahead of time is essential, because the transition will be stressful regardless. One of the first steps to take is to plan on visiting several care facilities. Alzheimer’s experts recommend visiting between three and five places before deciding on one. When visiting each facility, make sure to keep in mind the special needs your loved one has, and what kind of care/environment your family would feel is best. Make sure that the facility is designed to accommodate dementia behaviors; for example, many newer facilities have a “home-like” atmosphere as it aides in the overall treatment and comfort of the resident. Inquiring if the entire facility is dedicated to caring for patients with dementia related diseases is also important, along with how they deal with the progression of the disease (for example, if they can treat late stage Alzheimer’s), and finally learn what kind of credentials the staff members have.
However, with the projected trajectory of Alzheimer’s prevalence, as the baby boomers reach 65 years of age and beyond, the number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s may triple by 2050. This means that the overall cost of care is expect to increase exponentially. Therefore, planning for unexpected health expenses in the future cannot be stressed enough.
In summary for caregivers responsible for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, or another dementia related disease, keep in mind:
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