Many Americans devote themselves to taking care of their loved ones with dementia by themselves. However, most of the time, ensuring home health care without falling ill or affecting their work can be a burden for them.
Relying on caregivers may be a good option, but it’s always the solution. The time will come when the increasing needs of dementia patients require them to be moved into an assisted living facility.
If you’re unsure when’s the right time to move your dementia patients to assisted living, we’ve got you covered. While there’s no definitive guideline since every patient is different, experts recommend that the following signs call for a shift from an in-home to assisted living care.
Some patients with dementia tend to bite, hit, or kick someone. While most of us see this as physical aggression, it’s a sign of their helplessness and fear. A common way to help them deal with it is to figure out the cause of their aggression. It may be due to a wandering mind, pain, and other triggering factors.
While finding the cause of anxiety, be sure not to argue with them. Otherwise, they might misunderstand your sincerity, making them more aggressive. What’s even more complicated is that some instances when softly talking to them, calming them down, or gently rubbing their hands agitates them, causing them to take a swing.
Not only physically, dementia patients can also be sexually aggressive as well. While forced restraint is possible, most family members don’t want to resort to it. In this case, considering an assisted living placement can be the best course of action.
Patients with dementia are less agitated and confused in the morning, and their symptoms get worse in the late afternoon or evening. This condition is often referred to as “sundowning” or “late-day confusion.” It’s one of the likely reasons why they get angry and wander off.
Sundowning is a common early sign of dementia and is often accompanied by other symptoms. These include pacing, ignoring directions, and being confused, anxious, or violent. It can also get aggravated by factors like fatigue, internal clock disruption, or urinary tract infection.
The exact cause of sundowning is still unknown. However, many medical professionals believe that sun exposure combined with a low dose of melatonin, a hormone that controls our sleep-wake cycle, can ease sundowning. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work.
Sundowning can put a lot of stress on caregivers and severely disrupt family routines. When you reach this stage, the better for you and the safest place for your dementia patient is an assisted living facility.
Take note that dementia patients will still experience sundowning even in assisted living communities. However, these facilities are designed to secure them and give them a living environment they can fit. Rest assured that your loved one will be treated well, be free of what he or she wants, and experience an appropriate level of security.
Escalating Care Needs
Dementia affects coordination and balance, so your loved one will likely fall and be in an accident. This is why many of them can’t do activities of daily living (ADs) well. ADLs refer to the six basic human skills: eating, bathing, going to the bathroom, dressing, grooming (also called personal hygiene), and moving around.
Apart from it, people with dementia might have difficulty doing instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). It includes using appliances, cooking, cleaning the house, managing money, shopping, having fun, and taking care of medicines.
Even with the help of a family member and caregiver, a dementia patient with limited mobility can still be in danger, even at home. Research has shown that as the dementia patient’s illness progresses, family members and caregivers may experience significant negative physical consequences that may hinder their caregiving and put the patients at risk.
In contrast, assisted living communities have facilities specifically designed and tailored for people with dementia, which are far better than your ordinary home. They’re mostly made to help people with dementia and keep them from getting hurt at all times. If your health and the health of your caregiver are at risk, it’s time to opt for an assisted living residence.
How to Finance Assisted Living?
For federal health insurance programs, remember that Medicare assisted living coverage only pays for specific dementia care services for up to 100 days. These include physician fees, inpatient hospital care, certain medically necessary items, and short-term skilled nursing home care.
If your dementia patients need more care, you can get funding from the following. Most of these resources consider Alzheimer’s and dementia care the same:
- Medicaid and HCBS Waivers and Alzheimer’s Care
- Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID)
- State Non-Medicaid Assistance Programs for Alzheimer’s
- Respite Care for Alzheimer’s Caregivers
- Nonprofits and Foundation Assistance for Alzheimer’s
- Assistance for Veterans with Alzheimer’s
- Life Insurance Conversions
- Alzheimer’s Care Loans
Seek counsel from your dementia patient’s doctor before moving them to an assisted living facility. While the perspective of your family members and friends can play a pivotal role, seeking professional advice can give you much-needed insight.