Choosing housing options for a person with Alzheimer's disease is an important decision that requires serious consideration. Before making a decision, the choices should be discussed by the person with Alzheimer's disease, his or her family members, and even friends involved in his or her care. Learning all you can about your options is the first step to deciding what you need and want in a facility.
What options are available?
Long-term health care services usually fall into the following:
- Nursing homes
- Assisted living facilities
The cost for each type of care differs by service and community. Financial assistance may be available through state or federal programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, or through organizations such as the Veteran's Administration.
Respite care provides the caregiver with temporary relief from the day-to-day tasks and demands of caregiving. It also allows the person with Alzheimer's disease to remain in his or her home or community.
Respite care is mainly offered through community organizations or residential facilities. The most common respite care programs include:
- In-home services: These provide services ranging from personal care to befriending services to help with household requirements to providing skilled care. Although there are some government programs that provide this service, you may need to employ someone privately or through an agency.
- Adult day care services: This is the best way to ensure that the person with Alzheimer's disease continues to interact with others. These services usually are provided in a community center or facility. A variety of staff-led activities are conducted throughout the day, including support groups, dance programs, musical activities, and games. Transportation and meals often are provided.
- Short-term residential care: This is a temporary stay in a residential care facility, such as a residential or nursing home. Short-term residential care is a good option if the caregiver needs a break or if the person with Alzheimer's disease is briefly unable to cope at home.
Residential care facilities
Making the decision to move into a residential facility may be very difficult, but often it is not possible to continue providing the level of care necessary at home. Residential facilities are able to provide different levels of care, according to the person's needs.
- Retirement housing/Independent Living/Senior Living: This setting is more appropriate for someone with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) who still is able to care for himself or herself independently. The person may be able to live alone safely, but has difficulty managing an entire house. Generally, this type of housing provides limited supervision (no 24-hour supervision), and the staff likely will know very little about dementia.
- Assisted living facility: This option provides the step between living independently and living in a nursing home. Assisted living facilities offer housing, as well as support and personalized assistance, and health care services.
- Nursing home: This may be the only option when round-the-clock care and long-term medical treatment are needed. A good nursing home will be able to address a host of needs, including care planning, recreational activities, spirituality, nutrition and medical care. Many facilities have special units designed to meet the specific needs of people with dementia.
- Continuum care retirement communities:These facilities offer the different levels of residential facilities—from retirement housing to nursing home—in one community. Residents may need to move between buildings to receive different services.
Hospice is an organization that emphasizes comfort and care when a person is in the late stages of his or her disease, without considering drastic lifesaving measures. You should be able to find a local hospice organization, although home care agencies, hospitals, and nursing homes provide the service, as well.