With Alzheimer's disease, because of the debilitation of cognitive function that occurs, a patient will eventually need care either part time or around the clock for the rest of their lives.
The three choices for Alzheimer's care are to assist the patient while they live at home, move the patient in with a caregiver—usually a family member—or move the patient to a care facility.
Many families choose to care for their parent in the home. Before making this decision, it is important to understand what it entails. Being an Alzheimer's caregiver is rewarding for many, but it may not be easy. In addition to handling all of the day-to-day necessities of caring for another person, the behavior caused by the dementia can be unpredictable and frustrating. This can result in a heavy emotional toll on the caregiver and makes the situation even more stressful.
As a caregiver, you will provide both practical and emotional support to the patient with Alzheimer’s disease dementia. This can include managing their finances, providing meals and transportation and coordinating medical
care, physical care and assistance. You may also choose to act as a care manager instead of an Alzheimer's caregiver. In this role, you would coordinate the patient's care and be the key decision maker for them, but would hire various home care workers and assistants to handle the actual day-to-day care.
If you decide that an Alzheimer’s care facility is the best choice for your loved one, there are different types to consider, depending on the level of care they need:
Assisted living typically offers a combination of housing and meals, and supportive and healthcare services. This option is usually for patients in the earlier stages of the disease. The federal government does not regulate assisted living, and definitions of assisted living vary from state to state.
Nursing homes provide long-term care to individuals who require ongoing care and supervision. Most nursing homes have services and staff to address issues such as nutrition, care planning, recreation, spirituality and medical care.
Alzheimer special care units (SCUs) are designed to meet the specific needs of individuals with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Such units most often are cluster settings in which persons with dementia are grouped together on a floor or a unit within a larger residential care facility.