Caring for Alzheimer's Patients
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementing disease afflicting the elderly. There are approximately 4 million elderly suffering from this disease. It is a slow, progressive and ultimately fatal disease. While much research has been done and many things about the disease are coming to light there is at present no drugs in testing which will halt or reverse the course of the disease, only retard its progression in a percentage of those who have the disease. There is hope, however, that the research now being done will bring to light the cause or causes of the disease. The fact remains, however, that the millions of people who suffer from this disease must be cared for either at home or in a care facility.
Caring for an Alzheimer's patient at home
Approximately two thirds of those suffering from this disease are cared for at home by family, usually a spouse. As the disease progresses it carries with it a tremendous burden both physically and psychologically on the family members who are doing the care giving. That is why it is vital that the family access community support systems such as the local Alzheimer’s Association who can provide reassurance, support groups, literature and practical strategies for coping with someone who has the disease. It is extremely important that the family care giver seek outside help so that they don’t become ill from the strain of care giving as the disease progresses.
Too often the strain becomes intolerable for a spouse trying to cope all alone at home with an Alzheimer’s sufferer and they themselves have a physical or mental breakdown. There should be no shame or guilt in seeking respite care from professional home care agencies, adult day care programs or from other family members. By doing so a family can delay having to place the sufferer in a care facility.
Choosing the right type of facility
As the care burden increases many families seek care for their family member outside the home. Finding the right facility can be a difficult process encompassing geographical concerns (location of a facility close to the family), monetary concerns (how much can the family afford?) and care giving concerns (which facility will afford the patient the best care?).
Understanding the level and type of facility where your family member is most appropriately cared for is critical. Too often families will place an Alzheimer sufferer at the wrong level, either in a facility that has a much higher level of acuity than their family member is at or worse that they try to have the family member cope with living in a facility that doesn’t have the necessary support services required to meet their needs.
Facilities understand the problem, but often their need to fill an empty apartment or bed will cause them to accept people that are not right for their facility. That is why calling a reputable state licensed referral agency like California Registry can help point you to the proper facilities in the selection process. At California Registry we are experienced at helping families solve the puzzle. Over the last 10 years we have helped over 50,000 families find the right care facility for their family member. Because we understand the needs of those suffering from the disease we can match their needs with existing facilities and programs.
Alzheimer's Care Facilities
Generally speaking there are only four types of care facilities that can provide the type of care an Alzheimer’s patient requires. They are:
- Assisted living
- Small licensed residential care homes
- Dedicated Alzheimer care facilities
- Nursing Homes
Alzheimer's Dedicated Care Facility
These are few in number at present, tend to be quite costly, but are appropriate for advanced stages of the disease and where behavior is unpredictable. For the most part they are not nursing homes, but rather are licensed as residential care facilities. They tend to range in capacity from six residents to over 100. The average size facility houses about 60 residents. Accommodations tend to be spartan and functional, usually residents are housed two to a room. What differentiates this facility from simply a residential care home or nursing home is that only dementia patients are accepted into the facility and the care program is designed to concentrate wholly on making residents most comfortable and secure. Staff in these facilities are better trained usually than the average care home and have more experience in working with dementia patients. For a current list of such facilities call our helpline at (800) 777-7575 for referrals or fill out our care needs assessment form.
Nursing Home with a Dedicated Alzheimer's Care Program
Most appropriate for the advanced and terminal stages of the disease where severe physical and mental deterioration has taken place. It is also very costly, but in some facilities may be covered by Medi-Cal if the patient has no funds for their care. Many nursing homes have taken a wing of their facilities and dedicated it to Alzheimer’s care. Visit our page on Nursing homes for a more detailed description of this type of facility.