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Alzheimer's disease is a brain disorder that affects a large percentage of the older population. As many as 6 million people over the age of 65 in the US were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease last year alone. That equals out to about 10% of the senior population, and these numbers do not reflect those who suffer from early-onset Alzheimer's disease or even dementia.
This disease affects the cells of the brain causing them to die over time due to a steady degeneration. Alzheimer's disease is also the main cause of dementia, which also affects a high percentage of seniors all over the world. Dementia, a form of Alzheimer's disease, causes a steady decline in a person’s ability to think and function on their own.
Early warnings signs of Alzheimer's disease are simple things such as forgetting simple conversations, recent events, or even how to do basic tasks such as driving or dressing themselves. As Alzheimer's disease progresses along its usual path, the person afflicted will suffer from more intense bouts of forgetfulness and eventually be unable to complete any regular tasks independently.
There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease or dementia, but there are treatments available that can slow the rate of the progression of the disease. Some of these treatments may be medication based while others are more therapeutic. Treatment for Alzheimer's disease and dementia offer temporary relief from their symptoms and help to allow sufferers to live independently for as long as possible.
Seniors in the advanced stage of Alzheimer's disease may suffer severe loss of brain function which can lead to infection, malnutrition, dehydration or worse. There are many services and programs available to offer support for seniors and families of seniors who suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Long term care facilities such as memory care communities and nursing homes with memory care units are just a few of the options available.
What is Alzheimer’s Care?
When it comes to Alzheimer's care, or even care for dementia patients, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on the stage of the disease and the personal preferences of the senior or their family, some care options may be more appealing than others. The needs of the senior will also change according to the stage of the disease, which means that Alzheimer's care that you choose to start may also change over time. Picking the right type of Alzheimer's care can be a difficult decision. The most common options are:
- Adult Day Centers
- Respite Care
- In-home Care
- Assisted Living Care
- Nursing Care
- Hospice Care
We will go over each option in more detail to help you better understand the care provided for Alzheimer’s patients in each setting.
Alzheimer's Home Care Services
Many people prefer to stay at home even when suffering from a memory condition such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. There are many agencies that offer Alzheimer’s care services inside of a private home. These are generally a good option for seniors who prefer to stay in their own homes or families who want to keep their loved ones as close to them as possible. Depending on the level of need and severity of the condition, this can be a skilled nurse who offers care or a companion who helps with chores and errands. This also helps to take the pressure off of family members who are the primary caregivers for seniors with a memory condition.
There are benefits to staying at home, such as being surrounded by familiar sounds, sights, and people. At home Alzheimer’s care is similar to making the home safe enough for an infant. Make a point of ensuring there is plenty of light in walkways and on the stairs. Restricting access to dangerous areas such as the workroom or the basement are also a good idea. Medications should be stored in a secure place and smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each floor.
Alzheimer's Care in Nursing Homes
Alzheimer’s disease will eventually progress to the point where a person will need constant skilled nursing care. At this point, Alzheimer’s care can be provided in a nursing home. Not only will regular monitoring be provided 24 hours a day, but medical supervision will also be available in this setting. During the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, nutrition issues become a very real concern. Nursing home care can address all of these concerns with the support of medical staff always on hand.
Alzheimer's Care in Adult Day Centers
Some seniors may only need supervision for certain parts of the day. In these cases, a safe environment such as adult day centers is a good option for those who need Alzheimer’s care. Seniors will be able to socialize with others in a safe setting and often are able to partake in music and art therapy during their visit. Meals and transportation are commonly offered for seniors as well.
Alzheimer's Care in an Assisted Living Community
As seniors age, it is normal to consider moving into a long-term care facility such as an assisted living community. Assisted living is ideal for seniors who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and are still in the earlier stages. Alzheimer’s care in an assisted living setting will encompass help with meals, dressing, and reminders to take medications on time. Support is available around the clock while still allowing seniors to have a high degree of independence while they still are able. Planned activities, meals, and support staff are a great way to minimize the symptoms that come with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer's Care in a Memory Care Unit
Special memory care units that are available inside of retirement homes or senior living facilities are another option for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. The staff in these units will have received special training that allows them to offer comprehensive Alzheimer’s care tailored to those with the disease. There are also strong safety measures in place to prevent wandering or self-harm for those with memory conditions.
The Cost of Alzheimer's Medications
Alzheimer's care is more than just supervision or therapy. There are medications that are prescribed to help manage the disease and lessen some of the more noticeable symptoms. No matter where a person resides or receives Alzheimer's care, medications will be a separate expense. In most cases, the cost of medications will range from $200 to $400 a month for prescription medications.
Alzheimer’s Care Costs – The Most Affordable and Expensive States
Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and other related memory disorders affect as many as 10% of all retired seniors in America. Depending on which stage of Alzheimer's disease a senior is suffering from, care needs may differ. Some seniors are able to get by with minimal assistance while others may require 24-hour supervision. Of course, the cost of care becomes a concern when a senior on a limited income or a family member paying for their care is responsible for the cost.
There are many government programs as well as insurance packages that will pay for Alzheimer's care in part or in full depending on several factors. Where the treatment is provided and the type of treatment needed are two of the most important factors that dictate the cost of Alzheimer's care.
Aides that offer home care tend to offer a flat rate for their services regardless of what condition or lack thereof a senior has. Home care services range from $18 to $30 per hour for home care services and $20 to $32 per hour for home health care services.
Alzheimer's care in assisted living communities will depend on the state a senior lives in and the level of care they need. On average, the cost of care is about $1,000 more per month for a senior with a memory condition than a regular resident in an assisted living facility.
Alzheimer's care in adult day care centers charges a per day or half-day rate for any senior who uses their facility. There is no extra fee for seniors who suffer from a memory condition, but not all locations are able to care for seniors in the later stages of the disease. The average cost of daily care in such a setting is $70 per day.
Alzheimer's care in nursing homes is not more than the average cost for any other resident. Nursing homes are intended for skilled nursing and medical care, so seniors suffering from a memory condition are no different than other residents. Depending on the state, the daily cost of Alzheimer's care in a nursing home ranges from $150 - $965 per day.
There are payment options for seniors and families of seniors who are in need of Alzheimer's care. Medicare, charities, health insurance, and Medicaid are just some of the payment options available. If you are looking to move to a state that offers very affordable Alzheimer's care, the cheapest is Missouri across the board, while the most expensive is in Alaska.
Amenities Available in Alzheimer’s Care Homes
Senior living homes are a great way for the elders in the population to live out their golden years in relative comfort. Managing a home and all of the details that come with it can become burdensome in old age, and health conditions often add to that burden.
Seniors who suffer from memory conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia often reach a point where living in a secure setting is critical. Moving into an Alzheimer’s care home, an assisted living community, or a memory care unit is a great way to get the help they need while still maintaining a certain level of independence.
There are many amenities available for seniors who choose to live in an Alzheimer’s care facility. Some of the more common amenities found are regularly prepared meals, help with daily living tasks such as bathing and grooming, and assistance with medication management. Memory care facilities are also focused on providing services that help seniors to use their memory and maintain an active mental state.
Planned social activities, physical therapy, art therapy, and even music therapy are very common in most Alzheimer’s care homes. There is also more staff available to care for residents' needs and to help them stay connected with reality. Most Alzheimer’s care homes also offer lower resident numbers, which allow for a more comfortable and cozy feel that can put most Alzheimer’s and dementia residents at ease.
Depending on the location, medical services may also be included in the list of amenities offered by an Alzheimer’s care home. Some locations will offer experimental or alternative therapies aimed at helping to reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Due to the nature of the disease, security will be a large part of the layout and the training of the staff at an Alzheimer’s care home. They will have steps in place that prevent seniors from getting lost, wandering off the premises, and will also ensure outsiders are unable to access memory compromised seniors.
What Kind of Facilities offer Alzheimer’s Care?
Alzheimer’s care comes in many forms and the specific type of care a senior requires will depend on the stage of their disease. Several different types of facilities offer Alzheimer’s care for seniors, and care can also be provided in a private residence. The most common locations that offer Alzheimer’s care for seniors are assisted living communities, memory care units, hospitals, nursing homes, and even some retirement homes.
Assisted living houses seniors who are not able to live on their own, but are also not in need of nursing care. Alzheimer’s care for seniors living in an assisted living facility generally consists of housing, prepared meals, closer monitoring, medication assistance and help with grooming. Some locations also offer wards for dementia patients, but not all.
Retirement homes tend to house seniors who are mainly independent but need minimal to no assistance. A senior with early-stage Alzheimer's is usually still able to live on their own without concern for their safety but is unable to manage a private home on their own or drive on their own. Alzheimer’s care for a senior living in a retirement home generally consists of arranged transportation, planned social activities, and meals served in a restaurant-style setting.
Nursing homes are intended for seniors who have serious medical conditions and those that have reached the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Long term medical treatment, recreation, care planning, and nutrition are also addressed in a nursing home setting. The staff to patient ratios are much smaller in nursing homes than in less restrictive environments. The caregivers and skilled nurses in these locations will also have special Alzheimer’s care training as well as fall under federal regulation.
Memory care units or Alzheimer's special care units are wards within a larger facility. These units are created to meet the specific needs of seniors that suffer from memory conditions. Sometimes, these units are housed in a small area of a senior care facility, or even inside of traditional nursing homes.
When is Alzheimer’s Care Right for My Loved One?
Due to the degenerative nature of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, eventually, there will come a time when Alzheimer's care is required. In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, a person may be able to function with the help of family members, a companion, or even by moving into a retirement home.
Once Alzheimer's disease and dementia have reached the middle stages, 24-hour Alzheimer's care that offers constant supervision becomes critical. In the later stages, not only is constant Alzheimer's care required, but often skilled nursing care is essential to ensure that the seniors’ most basic nutritional needs are met.
Moving into an Alzheimer's care facility is never an easy decision, but it is one that should be considered well in advance of an actual need. There are a few things to keep an eye out for that may indicate that it is the right time for Alzheimer's care.
If the senior is no longer safe living on their own or being left at home alone, it may be time for dedicated care. Seniors who live with family members and suffer from later stages of Alzheimer's or dementia can often suffer from a drastic change in behavior. If their behavior puts themselves or those around them in danger, it may be a good time to consider Alzheimer's care.
Family members and loved ones who care for seniors with dementia or Alzheimer's disease may find themselves facing caregiver burnout. If the needs of your loved one are beyond your ability to provide care, it may be a good time to think about Alzheimer's care. In the event that you are finding yourself overtired, stress, and irritated or if your own life is being seriously adversely affected by providing care, it may be a good idea to get help with Alzheimer's care.
Sometimes, an Alzheimer's care facility will simply be able to offer the seniors a better chance at retaining their brain function than living at home even with dedicated care. Take the time to consider all of the advantages and benefits of using Alzheimer's care as opposed to trying to manage everything on your own. Every family and situation are different and it is important to make choices that best reflect your goals and family situation.
How Do I Find Alzheimer’s Care Near Me?
Finding an Alzheimer's care facility or an Alzheimer's care aid to provide care at home is easier than you think. Start by asking for recommendations directly from the senior’s doctor. Often, they will suggest a facility or service that is local and best equipped to handle the specific needs of their patient.
You can also search for memory care communities using our Alzheimer’s care locator tool. No matter which way you go about your search, it is important to visit each location prior to making a decision. Speak with the enrollment manager to see if the services and amenities offered to you meet the needs of your loved one. Ask about certifications, payment options, special programs, and meal arrangements. Some seniors may have additional health concerns, so make sure that the home you choose can accommodate any special needs or medical conditions such as diabetes or limited mobility. If possible, take your loved one with you to get their feedback on their potential new home.
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