Will my loved one with Alzheimer's disease require long-term care?
One of the most difficult decisions caregivers face is whether to place a person with Alzheimer's disease into a long-term care facility. Sometimes, because of strains on time, energy, and level of care required, long-term care may be the best option for some families, since care can be provided 24 hours a day. Researching your options in advance might help to minimize stress and help you make the most informed decisions.
Types of Care Facilities
Care facilities vary, based on the type and extent of care provided. The following are common types of long-term care facilities for those living with Alzheimer's disease:
- Retirement Housing
Retirement housing provides separate living quarters for each resident, and usually does not provide 24-hour access to care staff. Because staff usually do not have specialized knowledge in caring for people with Alzheimer's disease, this setting must be evaluated cautiously.
- Assisted-Living Facilities
These facilities can serve as living quarters prior to placement in a nursing home. Facilities often offer a combination of housing and meals, as well as personalized assistance with daily activities and some healthcare services. Some assisted living facilities have dementia units that house only people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.
- Skilled Nursing Facilities (nursing homes)
These facilities are appropriate for those people with Alzheimer's disease who require 24-hour care. Nursing home staff often have specialized skills to address nutrition, care planning, recreation, spirituality, and medical care needs. Many facilities have care units specially designed for people with Alzheimer's disease.
- Continuum Care Retirement Communities
These facilities provide accommodations for all levels of needs described above. When considering a long-term care facility, you may want to think about cost, reputation, and the comfort of a person with Alzheimer's disease. When looking for recommendations and referrals, consider talking with family, friends and the doctor.
Feeling informed about your options may make you feel more confident in making difficult decisions about long-term care.
Another important decision when caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease is when to start treatment. If your loved one is in the moderate or severe stage of Alzheimer's disease, you might want to consider the benefits of combination therapy with NAMENDA.
There are many agencies available to help you learn more about the financial, legal, and insurance issues associated with Alzheimer's disease. Visit these websites for more information and guidance:
- The Eldercare Locator. Available at: http://www.eldercare.gov
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: Available at: http://www.cms.hhs.gov
- The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. Available at: http://www.aahsa.org
- The Assisted Living Federation of America. Available at: http://www.alfa.org
- National Institute on Aging. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov
- Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers
- Alzheimer's Association. Available at: http://www.alz.org/index.asp