Care options for someone with early stage dementia
In a report on 7th January 2014 by the BBC on dementia care options it was highlighted that increasing numbers of Swiss and German families are packing elderly relatives suffering from dementia off to live in care homes in Thailand. Whilst this may not seem a very kind or caring thing to do in most people’s eyes, it does highlight a problem facing families up and down the length of Britain, namely, what are the care options for someone with dementia?
Option 1 – Provide the dementia care yourself
Your first instinct might be to think you should really look after your mother or father yourself. Keeping things in the family does have its attractions, not least from a financial perspective. However, on further reflection, you might decide that this would not be a practical solution for any number of reasons. Not least, you might not feel properly equipped to cope with the physical and emotional challenges involved. More often than not, it is the emotional demands of caring for an elderly parent that people find hardest to deal with. It is also important to bear in mind that, as well as having to cope with the effects of impaired memory and understanding, your loved may also be facing the additional age-related challenges of reduced mobility and poor eyesight and hearing. This means that they are likely to need care and support on a daily basis.
Option 2 – Arrange daily visiting care
Visiting care provides a lifeline for thousands of older people up and down the country. They look forward to the company provided by the various different care assistants who may visit them in the course of the average week. However, a vital aspect of dementia care is continuity and with visiting carers working different shift patterns (for example, from 7am until 2pm, or from 2pm until 9pm) and with no one able to work every day, it is likely that the care your loved one needs will be provided by 5 or 6 different carers every week. It is therefore virtually impossible for a visiting care service to provide the continuity of care which is so important for someone suffering from dementia. More fundamentally, if your loved one is living on their own at home, you need to ask yourself if it is still safe for them to do so. Another point to consider is that, once someone requires more than 4 hours of care each day, it is likely to be much more economical for them to have 24 hour live-in care.
Option 3 – Move your loved one into residential care
The third option is a residential care home, which is often considered – wrongly of course – to be the only option if you are unable to look after your loved one in your own home. But a care home is not the ideal choice for someone in the early stages of dementia. The problems associated with lack of continuity in the care provided apply equally – if not even more so – in a care home than with daily visiting care. There is also strong evidence to suggest that the symptoms of anxiety and confusion experienced by most dementia sufferers become more pronounced if they are moved away from the familiar surroundings of their own home.
Option 4 – Arrange 24 hour live-in care for your loved one
What is most important for anyone suffering from early stage dementia is to be looked after in familiar surroundings and to experience continuity of care. Another factor which needs to be considered is that, as the condition takes hold, most dementia sufferers tend to experience increasing feelings of anxiety, loneliness and isolation. This creates an additional problem for close family members. With their own lives to lead and their own families to consider, very few sons or daughters can afford to spend more than a few hours a week with their elderly loved ones.
So the question is, how do you find someone who is reliable and caring who can stand in for you and other close family members and provide your loved one with the kind, gentle and compassionate care they really need? The answer of course is to go to a professional care provider, like Care at Home, which specialises in the full-time care of the elderly. All our carers have previous experience in live-in care and they are all trained in dementia care.
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