Mom has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (or another form of dementia). The doctor’s analysis is heartbreaking, but it isn’t surprising. Mom hasn’t been herself for a while. Now that you know Mom’s condition won’t be getting any better, you need to start planning for the future. As her condition gets more serious, she’ll need greater levels of care and supervision. Should she move into your home where you can take care of her, or would she be safer and more comfortable in a memory care facility?
Home care versus memory care — this is the question that millions of American families have faced before you, and there is no right or wrong answer. In this article, we discuss the factors you need to take into consideration when deciding how best to care for your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
What Is Memory Care?
Before you can decide whether to bring Mom into your home or begin touring memory care facilities, it helps to know what a memory care facility is. Many Americans mistakenly believe that a memory care facility is the same thing as a nursing home. While many nursing homes do include memory care units for residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia they are NOT a memory care facility.
A memory care facility is a location that specializes in providing full care for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It doesn’t just keep memory care residents in a special wing of a building. It is specially designed to provide for the care needs of its residents at every stage of dementia, including the later stages that require very high levels of intervention. Memory care facilities are designed from the ground up to provide a safe, comfortable, and calming environment for those with dementia. The staff are specially trained for this type of care, and activities are designed to help stimulate and support this unique population.
Is a memory care facility the right place for Mom? Many families feel guilty about “shipping Mom off to a home,” but placing your family member in a memory care facility may actually be the best option for them. Here are a few factors to take into consideration.
The Stage of Mom’s Disease
Alzheimer’s and dementia don’t happen all at once, and even progression through the stages can be slow and uneven. If your mom or family member is in the early stage of the disease, she may be able to lead a mostly independent life with only light supervision required. She should be able to clean and dress herself, make her meals, and enjoy her hobbies.
During this time period, you may wish to have Mom live at home with you. In most regards, she should be self-sufficient, and this time could be a lovely opportunity for the two of you to bond and spend more quality time together. However, as your mother’s disease progresses, her care needs will increase and so will the challenges you face together. As she enters into the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, you may need to begin helping her with Activities of Daily Living, like bathing, clothing, and eating. Her personality may also change. She may become more anxious and paranoid and begin wandering away from the house. All of these changes will require more of your time and focus.
During late stage Alzheimer’s, almost every sufferer requires professional care. They may no longer be able to communicate or walk. Eventually, they will even have trouble swallowing and will need near constant supervision and care. In this stage, it is a good idea to either move your mother into a memory care facility or to hire a trained home care provider.
Your Available Time and Capabilities
Many family members feel that it is their moral obligation to “take care of Mom,” no matter what. This isn’t always a fair decision to yourself and your own family, especially if you have already built a busy and fulfilling life for yourself. For example, you may still have children at home that require your time and focus, or perhaps you are working in a fulfilling career that you love and that allows you to make a difference. Perhaps you’ve just retired and are looking forward to volunteering or finally doing the traveling you’ve always dreamed about.
If your mother is in the middle or later stages of Alzheimer’s, she will require a significant portion of your time and effort. She shouldn’t be left at home alone during the day, which means that you may need to quit your job or hire a home care worker to provide care while you work. Caring for your mother may also take time away from your children or make it difficult for you to find time for your hobbies and other commitments.
If you don’t have the time or availability to give your mother the care she deserves, consider moving her into a home where she can get high level care.
One of the biggest drawbacks of moving your mom into a memory care facilities is that most of them do not accept Medicaid. That means your mother or your family will likely have to pay for care out-of-pocket. This can make a memory care facility an expensive option. However, you will have to pay a price no matter what choice you make. For example, you may need to leave your job just as you are reaching the pinnacle of your career to care for your mother or hire a home caregiver if you can’t be with her during the day.
You may also have to give up a huge chunk of your life providing care to your mom, and your time has value, too. When considering the cost of a memory care facility, compare it to the time and effort it would take if you kept Mom at home.
Still not sure if a memory care facility is right for your mother or other family member? The best way to learn more about the memory care facilities in your area is to schedule a tour. If you live in Poway, Rancho Bernardo or 4S Ranch, we’d be happy to give you a tour of Sunshine Care. Give us a call today.
Categories: Memory Care