At some point in the care of an individual with Alzheimer's disease, the caregiver may need to look for assistance in order to meet the needs of the individual, as well as to meet his or her own personal need for rest and relaxation. Listed below are some options for care through the stages of Alzheimer's.
Home care agencies can provide staff to come into your home to assist with such tasks as dressing, bathing, grooming, and transferring. Many agencies also have "homemaker" services in which the homemaker can help with meals, housekeeping, and errands. You may also be able to find someone to assist in the home by privately recruiting a nurse aide or helper through the newspaper, church, or local universities. If you choose this option, it is important to check references, criminal records (through the Department of Public Safety), and make every effort to ensure the individual is honest, caring, and skilled in the type of care you need.
For more information on home and community-based service, visit the Community Based Alternatives Program at the Department of Aging and Disability Services.
Adult Day Care
An Adult Day Care center can provide a safe, stimulating environment for the individual with Alzheimer's disease. Generally, Adult Day Care centers are open from approximately 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. each weekday. A center of this kind can be an option for a caregiver that must work during the week, but is not ready to place their loved one in a 24 hour facility. Some centers offer respite care for weekends and overnight stays as well. Services that may be offered in Adult Day Care include meals, activities, trips, and games. The cost varies depending on the services offered. Some centers may have a sliding scale fee depending on the income of the member. It is important to check out the training of the staff and assess the overall environment.
Assisted Living/Personal Care Homes
These settings usually provide a room (private or shared) with one to three meals daily. Staff are generally available for 24 hours a day. The amount of care provided will vary from facility to facility. Many provide assistance with dressing, bathing, laundry, housekeeping, and medication administration or monitoring. Activities are frequently available during the day. The cost varies from facility to facility, and may increase as the level of care increases. Some assisted living facilities are designed just for Alzheimer's/dementia residents or have special secure wings. Regulations in Texas require that staff members working for a facility that advertises having an Alzheimer's/dementia unit must receive 4 hours of dementia-specific training before beginning work.
Nursing facilities are an option for those who require 24 hour-a-day supervision and nursing care. Few people plan to place their loved one in a nursing facility but for some it is a viable option. Nursing facilities can be costly. For those unable to afford this type of care, Medicaid, a state and federally funded program, can be of assistance if the facility has designated Medicaid beds. Financial guidelines must be met in order to qualify. Nursing facilities offer round-the-clock care from nurses and nurses' aides. Some nursing facilities offer special units for dementia residents. These units are generally secured and have care and activities that are more specialized for those with dementia.
Sometimes you may need a facility to care for your loved one for a few days or weeks while you go on a short trip or take a needed break from care. Assisted living/personal care homes may also provide respite or short-term stay care.
Click here to download the resource: Understanding Residential Care Options for Persons with Alzheimer's Disease.
Hospice agencies provide support to patients who are dying and the families that surround them. Hospice affirms life and regards dying as a normal process. Hospice helps to meet the physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs of the patient by providing nurses, social workers, clergy and counselors. Hospice care can be provided in the home or a facility setting. The Hospice team is there to assist with pain control and the multiple issues involved in the dying process. An individual is eligible for Hospice services if a physician has diagnosed him or her with six months or less to live.
For referrals to home health care agencies, adult day care centers, assisted living/personal care homes, nursing facilities, and hospice agencies, contact the Alzheimer's Association in your community.
Adapted from "Facing the Challenge: A Practical Guide for the Alzheimer's Caregiver," Greater Austin Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.