Alzheimer’s: Receiving Care Outside the Home

by | Feb 15, 2012

by Nancy Travers,LCSW

We all want to do best for our loved ones with Alzheimer’s. Many times that includes having the discussion of placing a spouse or parent in a long-term care facility as opposed to receiving home care. But when do we know when it’s the right time? And how do we know we’ve chosen the right place?

If you have been caring for your loved one who has this disease, you may feel a tremendous amount of guilt if you told him or her that they would always stay in their home. Or perhaps you’ve heard of nursing home horror stories like we all have and feel that you can provide better care than an institution can. Then something happens that changes your thinking: Your loved one wanders off and goes missing for a few hours or more, she sets her tea kettle on fire and the kitchen is burnt, or his care is becoming a full-time job and you can’t afford to stay home to provide this care.

Seven Signs Your Loved One Needs Outside Care

  • Having hallucinations, paranoia and delusions
  • Reacting catastrophically with overreacting and having frequent emotional outbursts
  • Experiencing altered vision perception
  • Needing assistance with all ADL (Activities of Daily Living) which includes bathing, dressing, toileting, grooming and eating
  • Losing all language
  • Losing gross motor skills
  • Having swallowing difficulties

All of these situations should prompt caregivers to consider placing their loved ones in a facility that cares specifically to patients with Alzheimer’s where there will extensive supervision and monitoring. This facility should best meet your loved one’s needs since someone with Alzheimer’s needs more specific care than an elderly person who has physical limitations.

What to look for in an Alzheimer’s facility

  • Physical space: the facility should be roomy, for your loved one to be able to move about, yet it should be also safe. An ideal facility would have a circular design with an inner courtyard with greenery and it should not have locked doors, dead ends or intersecting corridors.
  • Consider Other Residents: Does the facility have separate unit for Alzheimer’s patients or does it only admit Alzheimer’s patients? The better choice for your loved one may be the one that is only for those with Alzheimer’s because the staff will be well-trained for nighttime wandering and there will likely be support groups and education onsite. However, if you have a good feel for a facility that mixes patients with Alzheimer’s patients, then be sure the staff using closed circuit monitors or has other security systems in place such as wristbands or sensors.
  • The Staff: Arrange a visit at varied times of the day and at night to observe how the staff interacts with the residents. Be sure to visit during meal times and see if the residents are happy and if the staff helps residents in the dining room. Are they respectful with the residents or do they treat them like children? Are they warm and try to accommodate or are they cold and abrupt?� Also note that if a patient becomes unruly, how does the staff react?

If you are faced with the prospect of placing your spouse or parent with Alzheimer’s in the long-term care facility it is never an easy decision. Be sure you choose your facility wisely so you feel good that your loved one is being treated with respect and is being given more supervision and more frequent care than you could personally provide. And finally, be sure you reassure your loved one that you’ll be visiting them on a regular basis?frequent visits will both help you and your loved one stay comfortable and connected.

Alzheimer’s Association
225 N. Michigan Ave. Fl. 17
Chicago, IL 60601-7633
Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center
P.O. Box 8250
Silver Spring, MD 20907-8250

Nancy Travers is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She specializes in all types of relationships; We all want them, We all need them; How to get em and Keep them. Nancy’s office is located at 1600 Dove Street, Suite 260, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 949-510- 9423 or contact us.
copyright a division of Counseling Corner, Inc.
As seen in The Blade magazine June 2005.


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