Believe me when I say everyone has a hard time addressing the topic of future long-term care plans with an aging loved one recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, or any other stages of dementia or types of dementia.
Ever since you can remember, your parents have taken on the responsibility of raising you and taking care of your basic needs. However, as the aging process takes its toll, the roles are reversed and children end up being caregivers of our elderly parents. While this can be a difficult transition and create stress for both you and your parent, it is especially challenging when the senior has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Before we talk about care options, it may be helpful to understand some of the signs and symptoms associated with Alzheimer disease and dementia to determine if a long-term care facility is the best route to take. All older adults are prone to a reduction in cognitive functioning, mental impairment, some type of age-related memory loss, memory lapses, forgetfulness, depression, and lack of alertness. While these may seem like dementia-like symptoms and they can be early signs of Alzheimer’s dementia, there are other risk factors associated with brain function and cognitive decline that go above and beyond the normal aging process. Dementia is a more severe case of memory impairment and a significant decline in cognitive function that inhibits people from living a normal life and completing daily tasks. Dementia includes Alzheimer disease, the most common form of dementia, and other neurodegenerative diseases. Alzheimer’s targets the brain and nerve cells as it progresses. Your loved one may be more at risk of dementia or developing Alzheimer’s just based on their genes or if they have an excess of beta-amyloid protein deposits in the brain. This abnormal protein, found in brain tissue, create plaques that don’t allow brain cells to communicate the way they are supposed to which contributes to major cognitive impairment.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may experience mild cognitive impairment, short-term memory loss, confusion memory loss, and a noticeable difference in thinking skills. In a more moderate stage, there are both short-term memory and long-term memory problems, physical problems, personality changes, and an overall change in health and well-being. As the disease progresses from moderate to severe, a person will need constant care and treatment as they experience a significant decline in cognitive function and lose control over their body. If you notice any of these warning signs in your loved one, seeking medical attention early can help delay the progression of the disease.
Once a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is made, there’s an immediate rush to take action and determine the right long-term care plan for your aging loved one, especially if they have progressive dementia and require treatment. The sooner the better, before the grasp of dementia takes away their ability to properly reason and affect other aspects of brain health.
In this article, we will cover the top Alzheimer’s care options for seniors and which one would be the best fit for your aging loved one.
Alzheimer’s Care Options & Long-Term Planning
When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia, ensuring their safety and helping them settle back into daily life should be the first step you take. However, once that’s done, holding a family meeting to discuss future long-term care options will need to take place. The main focus of this meeting is to have the family come together and cover what memory care options are available in the area, how you’ll be paying for this care, understanding the different levels of dementia care and how the needs of your loved one will change as the disease progresses over time.
Of course, every situation is unique and there will be a different set of factors that need to be considered, depending on your individual circumstances. It’s common for families to choose home care for their loved ones, particularly when choosing a place for them to reside immediately after receiving a diagnosis. In the early stages of the disease when signs of Alzheimer’s disease are just beginning to show up, home care can be a great option so a person with dementia can remain in familiar surroundings and enjoy as much independence as possible. That said, as the disease progresses, residential care in a memory care facility or long-term care facility may be necessary in order to provide your loved one with the level of care and support they will require once they reach the mid-stage to late-stage point dementia.
There’s a wide spectrum of services offered to seniors with Alzheimer’s or seniors living with a type of dementia, including memory care facilities and in-home care options. When making a long-term care plan, make sure to carefully evaluate each and every option, as it will affect your aging loved one’s mental health and overall quality of life. Among the many factors you’ll need to consider, keep their safety in mind – particularly if their Alzheimer’s has caused them to exhibit aggressive behavior or an increased tendency to wander.