Having parents that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease is one of the hardest things that you will go through. This sort of dementia is not like any other disease, and watching what it does to your loved one both mentally and physically is a trial that no one should ever need to go through. The reality is, though, that millions of people in the United States have Alzheimer’s, and millions more watch as their loved one’s slowly succumb to the disease. It isn’t pleasant for anyone.
There are many approaches to living with Alzheimer’s as a family, and choosing the one that’s best for everyone can be a difficult decision. For many, the first reaction is the nursing home. And while this might be a necessity for some families, it’s not always the best choice. Studies show that a change in location can actually worsen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and cause a quicker decline in functioning. This is something that we want to avoid if at all possible for several reasons.
In order to keep your loved one in their home, there needs to be changes. This is an obvious statement, but once the reality of it sets in, it can be overwhelming. If your mom or dad has Alzheimer’s you need to take steps to keep them safe. They might be prone to wandering out of the house, so having safety locks on the doors or even alarms installed will be necessary. Once they begin to lose some of their mobility, you will need to make sure that the home is wheelchair accessible. You might need to hire a caregiver to help you with their care throughout the day, especially if you work. If you do get a caregiver, be sure that they are from a service, they are fully trained, and that they are trustworthy. You want someone that will help you, not make things worse or cause undue worry and stress. And above all, you want someone that gets along well with everyone in the family.
Whichever route you decide upon, it is important that you have help. You need educated opinions as you make decisions, and you need professional help when it comes to care. Being a caregiver to your family is admirable, but what happens if you get sick or injured and are unable to do everything that you once did? You need a backup plan. Hopefully you won’t need to use it, but you should have one just in case. Having a respite caregiver in mind, or being in touch with a professional in-home care service can help make this happen. This is a responsible choice, and it covers more angles of the complicated issue that is senior care. The use of an assisted living facility or a nursing home could also be a backup choice, but, as mentioned above, keeping your loved one in their own home for as long as possible is typically best for their mental health. It’s only when it becomes physically unsafe that this should be a viable consideration.