Dementia Care: What’s Available And How It Helps
By Toni Hoy
Updated December 12, 2018
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
Dementia often starts out with relatively mild symptoms. In its earliest phases, it's often ideal to stay at home to be cared for or assisted by family members. However, if you or a loved one has a type of dementia that can't be reversed, it eventually progresses to the point that you need to seek specialized dementia care. That's why it's always a good idea to find out what types of dementia care are available to you as soon as possible after diagnosis.
Dementia Care Planning
Developing a dementia care plan early allows the person receiving dementia care to be a part of the decision-making process. They get to look at the options available and express their concerns and preferences.
The first step in making a dementia care plan is gathering information about available resources. Even before you need additional help, it's a good idea to connect with an RN case manager who can help manage care when the time comes that you need it.
You also need to find the medical professionals who will manage your care. Visiting facilities may include: visiting an adult day care program to meet the supervisor and staff;visiting a dementia nursing unit to find out what services they offer; ortalking with an in-home dementia care center.
Family, friends, and neighbors can provide additional support throughout your illness, so building this support network is important now, whether you or a loved one has dementia or not. Community support is crucial not only for the person with dementia but also for the family members caring for them.
Once you know what's available and have settled on your preferences, make a document that outlines what you want if you can no longer make the decisions for yourself. You may want to appoint someone in the family to make these decisions, and give complete instructions about what you want them to do about financial and legal matters. A lawyer can help you create a legal record of these decisions.
Dementia Day Care
Dementia daycare is a type of care that's provided in a dementia facility in your community. It provides a place to feel safe and secure while your caregiver goes to work, handles personal chores, or takes time to care for themselves.
Don't worry, you won't be shuffled aside. The dementia caregivers in the adult day care will have plenty for you to do. They'll talk to you, take care of your needs, and they can also make sure you get the medications you've been prescribed to relieve your symptoms of dementia and treat other conditions. You'll also get to spend time in social situations, a key component of beneficial dementia care.
Home Health Services
Home health services for dementia may offer you the ability to stay in your home for as long as possible. Dementia homecare is provided by home care workers who are informed about the types of help you will need. Most home health services are done on an hourly basis. Depending on the skill level of your home care worker, they can provide you with any or all the following services:
- Providing transportation for recreational activities and visiting.
- Running errands or providing transportation for shopping, personal business, and doctor appointments.
- Helping with bathing, dressing, eating, exercising, and toileting.
- Helping with meal preparation and housekeeping.
- Taking care of wounds, giving injections, helping with physical therapy exercises, and other needs that can be provided by a skilled nursing care worker.
If you're on your own all or most of the time, you might prefer a live-in home health worker. This works well if you want to stay in your home but have trouble with mobility, bathing, and homemaking chores. With a live-in, you get companionship as well as someone to make sure you're always safe and taken care of if you fall or have another type of accident or emergency.
If you do hire a live-in helper, you'll need to make sure you have a place for them to stay and provide them with meals at your home. However, a single live-in home care worker can't manage your needs day and night. If you need constant care, it's best to go to a setting where that is a part of the standard of care.
Nursing Care Homes
As you create your dementia care plan, you need to include a nursing care plan for dementia. Nearly any nursing home can provide you with many of the basic services you will need. Some of the things they provide you include:
- Round-the-clock care
- Medication management
- Doctors and RNs on staff
- Meal service
- Social activities
- Housekeeping and laundry services
- Help with eating, bathing, toileting, and dressing as needed
One of the most important aspects of choosing a nursing care home is to make sure it has capable staff. Find out what levels of nursing care are available and what qualifications and certifications the staff hold. Look around to see how dementia patients are being cared for. Notice how the nursing home smells and whether it appears clean. If you need to live there at some point, you'll want to live in a place that's pleasant and comfortable.
Dementia Nursing Care
If you do go to a nursing center that isn't specifically designed for dementia care, you may have problems later, when your symptoms worsen. You could transfer to a dementia care facility, but by that time, you may have an extremely hard time dealing with changes. For many people, the best solution is to go to a nursing facility that offers dementia care in the first place.
A facility set up for dementia nursing care might provide the safety of a locked unit so that you can't inadvertently wander off, leave the premises, and become lost in the surrounding city. The lock is there for your protection. It allows you to move freely within the memory care unit without you or your loved ones worrying about safety.
Not all, but many dementia care units provide special activities to enhance brain function. There may be social activities and events, activities that stimulate cognitive skills, expressive therapies like art and music therapy, and group exercise programs.
Many of the activities in a dementia care unit focus on precious memories of the past. You may watch movies, listen to music, or talk about memories from your younger years. However, there are also activities that help ground you in the here and now, such as watching current sports events or talking about what activities you did recently.
Another aspect of dementia care is that it is partly palliative care. That means that it improves quality of life, both for the dementia patient and their family. Look for a dementia care facility that provides excellent palliative care which addresses problems related to loss of basic abilities such as chewing and eating, toileting, mobility, and the ability to recognize hunger and thirst.
Pain management is also an important part of palliative care for someone with dementia who has arthritis or other painful conditions. When you find a facility that provides services to help you maintain as much function as possible while addressing quality of life issues, you've found a noteworthy choice for your or your loved one's dementia care.
What To Do Next
ow that you know about some of the types of care that are available, it's time to start planning for dementia care. For some, this is a very painful process, after all, the fact that you're planning comes down to an admission that you won't always be able to care for yourself. It means that you recognize that your mental capacities are diminishing to the point that concrete plans are necessary. Until you adjust to those facts, it's very hard to face planning with any degree of optimism.
Whether it's you or a loved one that has dementia, respectful care is of the utmost importance. It's hard to face giving up moment-by-moment control of the dementia care, especially if you've been handling it well so far. You don't have to rush right out and put yourself in full-time dementia nursing care if you're still doing well, however you do need to decide what will happen when the time arrives that you can no longer do it.
By talking to a counselor at BetterHelp.com, you can get the help and support you need as you create your nursing care plan. Dementia is a lonely thing to face, whether it's you or a loved one with the condition. When you choose a licensed counselor, you can have a personal guide to the unknown world of dementia nursing care.
Your counselor can support you as you do the work of investigating options and facilities. They can be there for you when you feel all alone in dealing with the challenges of creating dementia care plans that will work for your dementia care now and in the future. It only takes a moment to start the process, and soon, you'll be putting the final touches on your plan for dementia care.