Dementia Care

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is basically a general term to describe the progressive effects of certain illnesses and injuries of the brain. The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. As a person experiences the gradual increase of dementia symptoms, their ability to take care of themselves steadily decreases. After a time, many of these symptoms can result in the person becoming more and more susceptible to the dangers of bodily harm due to accidents, or emotional outbursts. Eventually, most people with dementia require around-the-clock supervision and care.

In the earliest stages of dementia, many people prefer to remain at home. This is often encouraged by physicians and absolutely understandable. Once the disease begins to progress beyond just standard help with activities of daily living, it is possible to find advanced dementia care at home. There are caregivers that are specifically trained to address the particular requirements of a person with dementia, and while this is a more expensive option, it can help to keep the loved one in their family home for longer.

Early Signs of Dementia:

  • Noticeable memory loss
  • Difficulty with language and expression
  • Inability to plan or organize
  • Impairment of coordination and motor functions
  • Confusion and disorientation

The progression of symptoms from many different forms of dementia, can be slowed down and even stabilized for a longer period of time, when the person is receiving specialized care. Nursing homes can certainly provide the person with assistance with activities of daily care. Residential assisted living, and nursing homes both provide help with bathing, dressing, nourishment and usually provide some social interactions. This can be ideal for people who are at that point in life where they require daily care, but science has shown that these regular facilities can inadvertently increase the progression of dementia.

What Is a Dementia Care Facility?

Studies have proven that a more focused approach, specialized for a person with dementia, can actually help the person maintain a sense of independence for longer and even slow the progression of the disease. As a result of this evidence, many nursing homes have opened dementia care units, and even more focused, there are also entire facilities now dedicated solely to dementia assisted living.

Dementia Care Facilities provide continuing care, with a focus on slowing the progression of dementia. The staff is specially trained to expect and address the effects of dementia in everyday interactions It’s very common for dementia patients in regular nursing homes to withdraw into isolation, and many assisted living home are understaffed. The emotional withdraw from social experiences, makes a dementia patient easier to ignore. The lack of stimulation can actually progress the disease. In dementia homes, interactions with the residents are intentionally designed to stimulate the memory and encourage social behavior for as long as possible. Dementia patients can also become disoriented and therefore, aggressive.

Nursing homes are often not prepared or properly trained to soothe dementia related aggression, and they will administer drugs to subdue the person. These drugs often speed up the progression of dementia. In dementia homes, the staff understands the common causes for dementia-related aggression, and they know how to calm the person without the use of potentially harmful medications.

Behavioral symptoms are very common as dementia begins to progress, and are often the most difficult for loved ones and untrained caregivers to manage on their own. The behavioral symptom for a person with dementia can vary greatly from general restlessness, all the way to total lack of restraint with words and actions. Both can be very dangerous to both the loved one and the caregiver. Restlessness commonly leads to wandering away, and it isn’t uncommon for a person with dementia to get lost. Lack of restraint can lead to physically harming themselves or their caregivers. When noticing behavioral changes in a person with dementia, it’s a good idea for everyone to begin considering Dementia Care Facilities as a way to help them regain a sense of calm, and prevent injury to themselves or others.

infographic: Early Signs of Dementia

Benefits of a Dementia Care Facility

  • Specially trained staff with expert understanding on how to approach symptoms of dementia
  • Added security eliminates the fear of wandering, while promoting self-guided activity
  • Consistent interactions that are intentionally of benefit to a person with dementia
    • Keeps the persons mind engaged with stimulating social interaction
    • Prevents the common feelings of loneliness and depression
    • Reduces general anxiety
    • Can ease symptoms of irritability that lead to outbursts
  • Buildings designed specifically to prevent people from feeling lost
    • Color-coding of the walls to prevent disorientation and promote calm
    • Circular designs, that allow the person to always reach their destination
    • Easy access to the dining room and recreation room
    • Dining halls with regular dinner tables instead of unfamiliar cafeteria settings
    • Rooms filled with specific items to remind the person of their hobbies and interests
  • Socially engaging activities structured to also be effective dementia therapy techniques
    • Individualized music therapy
    • Cooking and baking therapy
    • Areas to reenact daily activities such as office work and child care
    • Supervised field trips in natural settings that are guided, and provide soothing experiences

How Much Do Dementia Care Facilities Cost?

Depending on the state of residence,  regular assisted living costs around $2,500- $5,800 a month, making the national average for assisted living care set at around $3,600 a month. The average increase in cost for Dementia Care Facilities is about $1,200 more each month.

Keep in mind that the costs can vary greatly, and so can the quality of service. It’s important to do your research and review all of your options before choosing any type of long-term care home for yourself or your loved ones. There are affordable dementia care options for almost any budget that include long-term care insurance, veterans’ benefits, and even reverse mortgages. These are all common ways that people use to pay for Alzheimer’s Care Facilities without using out-of-pocket payment.

The decision to move a loved one into Dementia Care Facility can be understandably difficult. It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. Every situation is different, but what most people have found is that it’s easier to transition when the conversations begin as soon as possible.

When you start conversations about long-term care with the person early on, it gives them the opportunity to feel like they have some control over their own future. Also, moving into a facility before the worst of the symptoms take hold, can actually keep those symptoms at bay. Studies have shown, that transitioning into a Dementia Care Facility is much easier on a person, when they still have the ability to understand what is happening. It gives the person a chance to acclimate to their new surrounding.

These conversations may be difficult, but they revolve around doing what is best for the person who needs care. Not everyone is available to be a full-time caregiver for their loved one, and as the loved one requires more and more attention, the overall health of the caregiver can also be at stake. Seeking treatment in the beginning stages, can have very positive results for the long-term trajectory of the disease, and can also bring peace of mind and overall wellness to the entire family.

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