There could come a time when your parent with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia will need more care than can be provided at home. During the middle and late stages of dementia, sometimes 24-hour supervision is required to ensure the person’s safety. As dementia progresses further, round-the-clock care requirements become more intensive.
Making the decision to move a parent into a specialized memory care environment may be difficult, as it is tough to suddenly be faced with a decision that makes it feel like YOU are now in a parental role. But it is important to consider whether or not it is possible to continue to provide the level of care needed in the person’s home.
The questions below, from the Alzheimer’s Association website, are ones to consider when determining if a move to residential care is a good option:
• Is my mom or dad becoming unsafe in her or his current home? Is he/she getting lost in the neighborhood, or in the home itself? Are you worried about the person wandering at night? Is crossing the street safely an issue?
• Is the health of my parent, my own health, or the health of my other parent at risk? This is a major consideration. Caregiver stress can be deadly. There are caregivers who actually die before their loved ones, because they are determined to do it all and once promised the person “they would never have to move to a home.” Please consider that this is a situation neither party was thinking about when that promise was made. You want to be able to be the daughter, or the son, or you want your other parent to be the wife, or the husband to the person with dementia. Being in the caregiver role can easily drain all energy from your rightful role.
• Are my parent’s care needs beyond my physical abilities or the abilities of my other parent? A doctor’s opinion might come in handy here, so that you, the son or daughter, have some professional backup for your own assessment of the situation.
• Am I or is my other parent becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver?Staff members who work with persons with dementia are trained to not take things personally, to answer repeated questions patiently, and to empathize even in the midst of challenging situation. It is typically very difficult, especially at first, for family members to adjust to the changes in their loved one.
• Am I neglecting work or family responsibilities in the process of caring for my mom or dad? If you are not sure who you can talk to about any of the issues listed here, this, do not hesitate to call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24-hour help line as you wrestle with this or any dementia-related issue: 1-800-272-3900.
• Would the structure and social interaction at a care facility benefit my parent? Sometimes the person will flourish in an environment where there is more structure and interaction with others. A lack of structure and routine is wearing and stressful for the person with dementia. Sometimes people adjust surprisingly quickly to a new environment, because they have less time on their own in which to become confused about what should happen next. Others take longer to get used to a new routine. Most people seem to settle in within 3-4 weeks.
Even if you plan ahead for a move, making this transition can be incredibly stressful. You may have an abundance of conflicting emotions. You may feel relieved and guilty at the same time. These feelings are common. Regardless of where you choose to have the person cared for, it’s good to keep your focus on making sure your parent’s needs are well met.
Please see http://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-residential-facilities.asp for additional information.