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Four Considerations of Alzheimer's and Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, September 12, 2019
Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SC

Learn about the factors that will help you know when it is time for someone to move to assisted living. As children become aware of a parent's dementia (possibly Alzheimer’s), many conversations ensued about the “what ifs.” “What if she lives longer than Dad does – what will we do?” “If it is Alzheimer’s – what steps will we take for her care?” “What will we do when Dad can no longer manage as her “caregiver?” “How will we know when it is time to move her to assisted living?”

When assisted living is the direction a caregiver or family is considering, it is important to understand the options. There are medium to large assisted living facilities that come with many benefits – activities, socialization, three meals a day, housekeeping and laundry services, medication management if needed, transportation for doctor appointments, church, outings, and grocery and drug stores. There are also smaller assisted living facilities that include private homes with 6 – 8 residents. Quieter and located within residential neighborhoods, these facilities may be the way to go for some. Smaller assisted living homes are especially appropriate when a resident has no interest or need for the extra services of a larger facility.

How Will We Know it is Time?

As it happens, the answer to this question has many factors. Any one of the factors, or a combination of them, can put the process of moving to assisted living in motion. The factors can fall into one of four categories—safety, general health and well-being, behavior, and caregiver burden. Let’s take a look at them.

Factors to Help You Decide

Safety

Of all considerations, safety is first. Your loved one must be safe in his or her environment. Have they wandered? If it has happened once, it is likely to happen again. Are they a fall risk? A fall can change everything, and frequently precipitates a move to assisted living. Are there stairs in the home that are becoming too difficult or unsafe? Would it be safer for them with one-level living, staff to monitor their whereabouts, and activities to keep them occupied?

General Health and Well-Being

How is their physical health? Do they have other health issues or a chronic illness? Are they able to get daily exercise? Have you noticed a weight change? What is their ability to manage their own activities of daily living (ADLs)? ADLs include eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring (walking) and continence. Are they socially engaged, or are they becoming more socially isolated? Do they see friends or family on regular basis? Have they given up driving, or should they?

Behavior

Are they experiencing more forgetfulness, confusion, episodes of aggression, sundowning, or combativeness? Is their behavior becoming difficult to manage?

Caregiver Burden

If you are the caregiver, are you able to get rest? Is the person with Alzheimer’s keeping you up at night? Are you able to get respite from caregiving? Is the rest of your family feeling ignored? What support system do you have? What about resources? Are you continuing to work? Is there adequate income? Is caregiving just too much? Would moving your loved one to assisted living give you time needed for family or work?

When the Decision is Yours to Make

If this decision is yours alone to make, are you ready to move your loved one to an assisted living facility?

If you are finding it difficult to make this decision, many resources are available. Tour some facilities and talk to the staff. Reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging or Adult and Aging Services. An Aging Life Care Specialist is also available to discuss this option, as well as others. Finally, other caregivers are travelling the same journey and understand. Find them through any of the resources above.

If you are considering memory care for your loved on, contact Spring Arbor

#HOWYOULIVE
brightfocus.org


How to Find Quality Memory Care

Joseph Coupal - Monday, September 09, 2019
Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SC

Learn some helpful tips for how to find a memory care facility and how to evaluate the quality of care being provided.

Over time, the long-term care industry has evolved to include many levels of care – skilled nursing, assisted living and independent living among them. Memory care units too, have grown in number in response to the increasing number of persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Often found as units within other long-term care facilities, and also as stand-alone memory care facilities, memory care units and facilities are appropriate when a person needs specialized and trained caregivers who understand the needs of someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Memory care also provides security for residents, with locked facilities to prevent residents from wandering away.

If you are looking for a memory care facility, where would you start and how would you know how to evaluate the quality of care being provided? Working with a professional in the field of elder care is one way to find a memory care facility.

There are other options too.

Begin Your Online Search: Trusted Resources

These days, it seems the start of every search begins online. When looking for memory care, online is also a good place to find information about the licensed facilities in your area. Below are some online resources that can help you identify the licensing agency for your area:

  • Eldercare Locater
  • Your state Department of Social Services
  • Your local Department of Social Services and/or Aging Services

Additionally, through your state’s general website (i.e. “name of state.gov”) you can enter search terms that fit your location, i.e. “memory care” with the zip code or city or county you are searching for. One or two searches and you will find the state department that oversees the licensing of memory care and/or assisted care. State agencies are often the regulating agency over assisted living and memory care facilities, and they maintain the list of licensed facilities. Working with the licensed list of facilities will provide you with those facilities that are regulated and adhere to a set of standards.

What is a Memory Care Unit?

Memory care is a unique form of skilled nursing care that specializes in working with people with memory problems that are related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Skilled nursing facilities provide round-the-clock medical treatment and daily care planning.

Finding a Memory Care Unit

Location will be important if you are planning to visit regularly. With the list of licensed units, define the geographical area where you want to focus your search. Contact the facilities to schedule tours. Deciding the location of the memory care facility is important if you are planning to visit regularly. Many people begin their quest with a search for “memory care facilities near me.”

Visit the Facility and Interview Relatives of Residents

When touring the memory care units, walk the halls, stay for lunch, and observe the activity of the unit. Look at the rooms. Meet the caregivers and ask questions. See if you can get in contact with another family of a resident to speak with someone who has experience with the facility.

What other questions within those areas would you need to address? Quality and cost of care are usually the primary focus. Some ideas are:

Evaluating the Quality of Care:

  • What kind of training do caregivers have?
  • How many caregivers are working during each shift?
  • What is the ratio of residents to staff?
  • How do they handle difficult behaviors?
  • What if your loved one is admitted and does not adapt to his new environment?
  • Is the facility able to care for residents for the rest of their life?
  • Can hospice come in?
  • What is the facility’s plan for emergencies, such as a hurricane or fire?

The Cost of Memory Care:

  • What is the basic monthly fee?
  • What are the levels of care and their rates?
  • How often does the basic monthly fee change?
  • Is there an entry fee or deposit?
  • Does the facility work with long-term care policies?
  • Are there any charges or expenses we have not talked about?

Memory Care within a Nursing Center

Above, we have addressed memory care facilities that are either independent or affiliated with assisted living facilities. Memory Care can also be a component of nursing centers. Though not necessarily in a separate unit or space, persons with dementia who reside in a nursing center also have the protections of standardized care guidelines.

If your loved one has additional care needs that make a nursing home the appropriate care option, be assured there are requirements prescribed by the Joint Commission that lay out the memory care certification requirements for nursing homes.

If you are considering memory care for your loved on, contact Spring Arbor.

#HOWYOULIVE
brightfocus.org


How to Talk With a Parent About the Symptoms of Dementia

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 03, 2019
Spring Arbor - VA, NC

Watching your parents age can be difficult and when signs of dementia appear, it can be harder than ever. Talking to parents about these changes may seem overwhelming, but having the tough conversation now can lead to an earlier diagnosis and will help everyone better cope with the changes.

How to Recognize Early Dementia Symptoms

The Alzheimer’s Association identifies 10 early signs and symptoms of dementia that can help Alzheimer’s experts and medical professionals diagnose dementia earlier:

  • Challenges in planning or problem-solving.
  • Changes in mood and personality.
  • Confusion with place or time.
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks.
  • Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
  • Misplacing objects.
  • New problems with communication.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Trouble understanding spatial relationships and visual images.
  • Withdrawal from social activities.

Diagnosing Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia early may allow someone experiencing the symptoms access to new drug trials, giving them a broader treatment plan with more options. Additionally, an early diagnosis can help you and your family plan financially and legally for your future.

6 Tips for Having the Talk With a Parent About Dementia Symptoms

Adult children commonly have a hard time broaching the subject of dementia with a loved one.

If your loved one is exhibiting dementia symptoms, it is crucial to have the talk with him or her as soon as possible. Here are six tips for talking about dementia:

1. Acknowledge the conversation may not go as planned.

You know you have good intentions, but your loved one may not be open or willing to discuss the changes you have noticed. They may be angry or defensive. Don’t force the conversation. Take a break and plan to revisit the conversation later. If your loved one still refuses help, contact a medical professional.

2. Have the conversation as early as possible.

When you see the signs, it’s important to say something early before more symptoms occur. It’s best to have this conversation when cognitive functioning is at its highest.

3. Offer your support.

This can be scary for your loved one and seeing a doctor to discuss the changes can feel overwhelming. Let your loved one know that you are there for them and can accompany them on doctor visits. Show your support throughout the diagnosis and the days and months that follow.

4. Plan specific ways to start the conversation.

Use these conversation starters:

5. Realize gaps in self-awareness.

Someone experiencing the signs of early dementia may not see the symptoms in themselves. Be prepared that your loved one may show signs of confusion, denial and withdrawal.

6. Think through who should have the conversation.

Is there a certain family member or close friend who can positively influence your loved one? Consider asking that person to be with you or have the conversation privately.

If you are considering memory care for your loved on, contact Spring Arbor Spring Arbor.

#HOWYOULIVE
alzheimers.net