It was recently brought to my attention that those with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia might not be getting all of the options available to them. I’m not talking about forms of treatment, I’m talking about places to live. Some practitioners are only in support of the home setting. Many families choose to keep their loved one at home, no matter what. I can see this being a wonderful option for those who have mild dementia, or are pleasantly confused and have no behaviors. However, in situations where this is not the case, I can picture disaster.
Here are some of the dangers of telling those caregivers that home is the only option: 1. Let’s say that a wife weighing about 120 lbs is caring for her 6’5” husband that weighs 250 lbs. One day he starts to get violent; shaking her and throwing things. Do you think she is going to be able to physically stop it? Doubtful. So, the first danger would be an unsafe environment for both people. 2. Now, let’s look down the road a few years. This wife has been taking care of her husband, day in and out. She, herself, is starting to fail because she doesn’t have time to get to her own doctor. She’s too worried about leaving her husband alone. This leads to a second problem; caregiver burnout. 3. Finally after several years of being the primary caregiver, with limited outside help, the wife feels there is no choice but to find placement. She goes back and forth about her decision, crying herself to sleep at night. This leads to a third major issue; caregiver guilt. These issues can all be avoided if there are options given and education provided about what else is out there for someone affected by dementia.
A large number of our clients have memory care issues whether they be Alzheimer’s or other forms dementia. It is our job to assist them in determining what is the safest and most beneficial option for their specific situation. Again, many will choose home, but they need to know what else is out there. There are a number of Assisted Living Centers and Assisted Living Homes that specialize in memory care. And, many of these places are also contracted with ALTCS, which is great for those who do not have the funds to pay out-of-pocket. These can be lifesavers for the caregiver who feels she has no support. She can rest easy knowing her loved one is in a safe, nurturing environment with people who are trained to care for those with dementia.
It seems irresponsible to put that kind of pressure on a caregiver who is already having to deal with a horrible disease and the loss of the person they once knew. This leads me to a question for all of you out there: What options do you provide?