The Alzheimer’s Association reports that nearly 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and that the number will rise to 14 million by the year 2050. It is no wonder we are in the middle of what is known as an Alzheimer’s crisis. If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, you’re certainly not alone. However, you might still feel isolated and perhaps undereducated when attempting to make serious decisions that will affect your aging loved one’s care and quality of life.
Following a dementia diagnosis, one question to ponder regards planning for living arrangements. Although people living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can be safe living at home alone or with support, living at home alone will no longer be a safe option for when the disease has progressed past a certain point. For many family members, the question then becomes: Should my loved one live with me, or in a senior care community?
Unfortunately, one of the hallmarks of dementia is a progressive cognitive decline that results in more than just memory loss. Decreased judgment skills, increased anxiety, and a tendency to wander (or walk without a purpose) lead family members to pursue supervision and care sooner than later in the disease process.
As you begin to plan for the future, be sure you speak with your loved one’s physician. The doctor can offer you specifics about your situation, including the challenges your loved one must now face, and what safety issues are likely to arise.
What People with Alzheimer’s Disease Need
In order to be healthy, happy, and safe, most people living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia need certain things in their living environment. As you consider the options of living at home versus those of a senior care community, it is wise to determine which environment will offer your loved one the most support.
People living with dementia need:
- Access to round-the-clock supervision in order to stay on task and stay safe
- A safe environment designed to keep them safe (locks on the oven, free from tripping hazards, etc.)
- Activities designed to maintain fine motor skills, strength, balance, and socialization, as well as activities that aim to decrease the rapidity of cognitive decline
- Supervised, safe transportation for appointments and errands
- Nutritious meals prepared and served at least three times per day, as well as snacks
- Assistance with daily tasks, including bathing, transferring, and mobility work
- Help with taking medications
Family Home vs. Senior Care Community
When it comes to living longer, available research is not clear as to which environment is better for longevity. Seniors living in family homes as well as in senior care communities pass away for various reasons and under a variety of circumstances. However, seniors living in family homes can often cause tremendous stress for family members who are serving in a caregiving role.
If you are choosing to care for your loved one at home, it is crucial that you have times of respite, or rest, from your caregiver role, and that you have a support network to assist you during this stressful time.
Senior living communities can be a welcome addition to your loved one’s care team, and can provide a safe and structured environment designed to help your loved one live a high quality of life. Gone are the days of traditional “nursing homes” of 20 years ago; instead, memory care communities offer cozy environments that are tailor-made to keep seniors living with dementia safe, happy, and peaceful.
Memory care communities offer more than just a safe environment. Caregivers are specially trained for dementia-specific interventions and plan activities to engage residents appropriately. Meals are delicious and nutritious, served in a social (yet calm) dining room setting.
Family members are invited to attend special programs, can visit anytime, and can participate in educational lectures and caregiver support groups. Most importantly, residents have access to the care and conversation they need, whenever they need it.
Making decisions on behalf of your loved one can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to make these difficult choices alone. The team at The Arbor Company has been working with seniors living with dementia for decades. We have the knowledge to guide you along the way.
Download our Guide to Comparing Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Options to learn more about how to choose the best senior care community for your situation.