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What Are the Best Living Arrangements for Someone With Alzheimer’s?

What Are the Best Living Arrangements for Someone With Alzheimer’s?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s annual report, most caregivers for the nearly 7 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease are unpaid caregivers such as family members or friends. Since Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, many of those diagnosed continue to live in their own home or with family members for many years after a diagnosis, which can be an excellent option in many cases. Like the Alzheimer’s assisted living community in memory care at Solterra Senior Living, long-term residential care might be a more appropriate option, especially in the later stages of the disease.

How do you choose the best living arrangements for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease? It depends on personal preferences, of course, as well as the individual’s symptoms. The following guide discusses several factors to consider when considering Alzheimer’s care, including the benefits and potential challenges of the different types of long-term care.

In-Home Care

In the early to middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, symptoms are usually milder and intermittent, so care generally focuses on maximizing independence while also providing whatever assistance might be necessary in a safe, supportive environment. For many families, in-home care is a great option. 

As the name suggests, in-home care is for those who want professional dementia care and other services provided in their own home. Many home care organizations can provide help with activities of daily living (ADLs), cooking, buying groceries, transportation, and some medical care. This additional assistance helps the one receiving care and gives the family caregivers some much-needed respite to avoid burnout and relieve stress.

There are many apparent benefits to in-home care. For one thing, staying in a familiar environment with an established routine and schedule can reduce anxiety and confusion for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Exposure to familiar surroundings and objects can stimulate cognitive activity and memory. 

Professional in-home caregivers can provide focused, one-on-one attention tailored to the preferences and specific needs of the individual and family. This personalized approach allows flexibility to accommodate the family caregivers’ schedules and any changing needs of the one receiving care. 

Depending on the level of assistance needed, in-home care options can be more cost-effective than long-term residential care options, especially in the beginning. However, the costs may add up if your loved one would benefit from more specialized care.

In the middle to late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, in-home care might become a bit more challenging. For instance, you might need to modify the home for safety and mobility by adding assistive devices like handrails in the hall or grab bars and seating in the bathroom. If your loved one requires 24-hour supervision, you will likely need to hire additional help. Also, in-home care might not meet the social needs of your loved one, and being in an assisted living community might.

Assisted Living Memory Care Communities

During the middle and later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, the focus of care generally shifts toward balancing and maintaining independence while providing greater levels of assistance, structure, and physical security. Many families choose memory care communities in assisted living because they provide the following:

  • Specialized memory care, including access to cognitive games and art and music therapy
  • Highly structured, consistent routines and schedules that reduce confusion and anxiety
  • Physically secure environment with enhanced safety measures for entrances and exits
  • 24/7 access to assistance with activities of daily living like dressing, toileting, and medication management, as well as emergency response
  • Well-trained and compassionate staff who understand the unique needs of those with Alzheimer’s disease
  • Housekeeping, dining, and transportation services
  • Focus on physical wellness through exercise and therapy (occupational, speech, physical)
  • Opportunities for social interaction through group activities and classes, community events like game nights, group exercise classes, and common areas like media and rooms
  • Personal care plans that focus on the individual needs of each resident, reviewed regularly and adjusted to meet changing care needs

The cost of Alzheimer’s assisted living communities varies, depending on where you live. Although the costs might be higher than in-home care, financial help is often available through Medicare, veteran’s benefits, and long-term care insurance. Working with a financial planner can help.

It is important to visit the community in person and ask questions before making decisions about a transition. Moving into a new environment can be challenging, which can increase stress, anxiety, and confusion for someone with Alzheimer’s. Make sure you are comfortable with the staff at the memory care community, that the residents are happy, that the staff uses personal care plans, that there is an open visitation policy, and that the location is easily accessible for friends and family to visit often.

Nursing Home

Although there is some overlap between the services provided in Alzheimer’s assisted living and nursing home care (also known as skilled nursing care), nursing home care is usually reserved for individuals in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease or who need a higher level of medical care than can be provided at home or in Alzheimer’s assisted living. 

The benefits of nursing home care include:

  • 24/7 access to monitoring and highly skilled medical care, including medication management
  • Physical, occupational, and speech therapy services
  • Secured entrances and exits, personal emergency response systems, and routinely monitored environments
  • Palliative and hospice care
  • Regular schedules for meals, sleeping, and activities provide much-needed structure and create a familiar environment
  • Housekeeping, linen, and laundry services
  • Social activities with other residents

Nursing home care can be costly, but financial solutions include Medicare, veteran’s benefits, and long-term care insurance. It’s best to consult with a financial planner.

Unlike in-home care or Alzheimer’s assisted living communities, skilled nursing homes can feel a bit more institutional and hospital-like. Residents might also have more limited independence and autonomy than the other living environments discussed previously. 

Ultimately, your family is in the best position to judge what type of living arrangements are best for your loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease. Asking your loved one about their preferences and consulting with other family members, friends, caregivers, and healthcare providers can help you assess their care needs as you make the decision together.

If you’re interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s assisted living with specialized memory care services at any of Solterra Senior Living’s beautiful communities, please contact us to speak with our staff about the services and amenities we offer, financial solutions and to schedule a tour to see us in person.