Alzheimer's and Personal Care

Virtual VillageIt's never easy to watch loved ones go through any form of hardship. Alzheimer's is an especially difficult disease, for both the person afflicted with the disease and for those who love and care for them. There comes a time when a senior experiencing Alzheimer's is not able to live alone and must either have specialized home care or move to a place where their individual needs will be met. In the early stages of Alzheimer's, some people find that Alzheimer's residents can be cared for by family members, but as the disease progresses, most residents have needs that exceed what family or friends can provide. It is at this point that residents and families turn to personal care with memory support.

Personal care for each resident.

Assisted living and personal care facilities offer senior care for those who need help with daily activities such as bathing, eating, or dressing. Most often, these personal care facilities cater to seniors who cannot live safely by themselves. However, these programs are also open to people with disabilities and conditions like Alzheimer’s or dementia, as long as the staff has the proper training in memory support to care for their special needs. There are personal care facilities that cater strictly to Alzheimer’s or dementia residents, but many personal care facilities have a special unit to house these residents in addition to their other personal care residents. In addition to personal care, most personal care facilities — like Brethren Village Retirement Community — offer meals, housekeeping, laundry services, transportation, group activities, and programs to entertain and assist their residents.

Special needs for Alzheimer’s residents.

Assisted living and personal care facilities that support Alzheimer’s residents should have safety precautions such as monitoring systems or locks to prevent wandering. Caregivers at these facilities are trained to handle not only the physical needs of the residents, but also the mental issues that arise, such as memory loss, combativeness, and anxieties. Skilled nursing may be included, but medical staff is not required by law as it is in skilled nursing facilities. Medication is kept and distributed by the memory support staff so that the correct dosage and time of administration can be monitored and documented.

Choosing a personal care facility with memory support.

Before choosing a personal care facility for an Alzheimer’s resident, prospective facilities should be evaluated for care capabilities, cleanliness, safety, staff expertise and the ability to give personalized attention, structured activities and schedules, licensing, insurance, and proper resident rights policies. Basic care is the most critical aspect of any personal care facility, but it’s also important to choose a place that feels right to the resident and the family. Consider the atmosphere and comfort level of the personal care facility. While some states allow Medicaid coverage for Alzheimer’s care, most facilities are privately paid, so cost is a factor in choosing a new living place for the Alzheimer’s resident. Families and Alzheimer’s residents must also take into consideration future care needs. The speed of degeneration for Alzheimer’s may vary from resident to resident, but in all cases, the resident will degenerate and require greater care up to and including skilled nursing care.

Peace of mind for residents and their families.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking, and finding a new home for someone suffering from this disease can be difficult. But knowing what to expect from a personal care facility and knowing what to look for go a long way towards giving both the resident and the family peace of mind.