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What are the best options for individuals with dementia?

Care choices

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If you have an elderly relative who is suffering from dementia, you will know that trying to figure out what is best for them can be very hard. Dementia affects around 850,000 people in the UK alone, and can put pressure not just on the individual but on their surrounding family and community. As their close family relative, you may have working commitments, children of your own or not be located close enough to the individual to be able to care for them yourself. In these instances, it is best to seek professional care options.

As a family member, your primary concern is probably enabling your relative with dementia to make decisions for themselves, if they can, and set up provisions for their future. The information out there on what you should do for this individual can be mind-boggling, and making your decisions as their next of kin even harder. In this blog, you will find a list of different care options, and how they might suit a person with dementia. Let’s get to it – here are some different options for individuals living with dementia.

Home care

Home care, as you probably already know, is an alternative to a care home, which allows your relative to stay in the home they already live in. This can be highly beneficial for an individual who has dementia, as symptoms of dementia are confusion and decreased cognitive functions, meaning that a change of scene for somebody with dementia can be very stressful for them. In-home care can be accessed via the NHS, or private carers can be sourced as an alternative.

What does home care do for a person with dementia?

Home care packages are all relatively similar, but different services can be applied depending on the individual. For somebody with dementia who lives alone or with another elderly person, the main thing is to make sure they do not cause harm to themselves. This could be through leaving the stove on by accident, going outside and getting lost, or being unable to do some tasks due to increased confusion and memory loss. So how can in-home care help?

A home carer can either visit once, or more than once per day, or even take up full-time residence within the home of the individual who needs care. This carer will be able to keep your relative with dementia safe from harming themselves by accident, as well as maintaining their nutrition, helping them with hygiene, and keeping them company. This can allow you, as their family member, to rest easy knowing that your relative is taken care of and that they can’t get into difficult situations due to their reduced cognitive abilities.

Are there any downsides?

There are a few downsides to home care. For someone living with dementia, allowing a stranger, or strangers, into their home can be worrying for them. Due to their increased vulnerability, they might mistake the carer for an intruder or criminal, making it very difficult for the carer to do their job, and causing fear and anxiety in the patient. Carers who are specially trained in dementia care will know how to handle this situation, but it can still be scary for your family member at first.

Care Homes

The other main option for caring with an individual with dementia is a care home. While care homes offer essential services for elderly patients who can no longer take care of themselves, many people back away at the idea of moving their relative with dementia into a care home. This is understandable. Not being in their own home can be very stressful – but sometimes, care homes are the better option. So what can care home provide to somebody with dementia?

What do care homes offer for patients with dementia?

The main draw of a care home is that your relative will be cared for twenty four hours a day by professional carers and nurses. If your relative’s symptoms of dementia have worsened to the point at which they are confused most of the time, struggle with their speech and have difficulty recognising people they know, then a care home can provide you and your family with the assurance you need that they will be taken care of the whole time. Care homes are also designed with vulnerable people in mind, so their facilities such as stair chairs, wheelchairs, nurses, special beds to support weakened bodies, and other facilities, are likely to surpass what your relative could access at home.

In addition, your relative with dementia will likely have access to social interaction with other patients in the care home, allowing them to befriend people as well as play games, watch television, and even access group activities like yoga, singing, dancing, beauty treatments and more. This will seriously boost their mood and allow them not to suffer with loneliness as they get older.

What are the downsides to care homes?

Care homes are very expensive, which is the main drawback for many families. Even affordable care homes cannot replace the emotional connection you and your relative with dementia will have to their own home. For many patients with dementia, moving to a new place can add to their confusion and distress. These feelings can fade, however, once they settle in and become accustomed to life in their new home.

The other downside that many families feel when it comes to care homes is that they may not have access to see their relatives whenever they want, but only at visiting hours. This might upset families who are very close with their relatives as they want to spend as much time with them as possible, and understandably so. If this is a concern for you, make sure that you bring this up with care home managers when exploring facilities for your family member with dementia.

At the end of the day, providing comfort and calm to your relative with dementia is the most important thing. Whichever option is more readily available to them, and that will help their quality of life, is the route you should take.

Photo by Laura Fuhrman on Unsplash

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