When the time comes that living on their own is risky for their health and well being, you have several options.
If finances aren’t an issue, they can stay in their home with help. You might start off with someone to cook and clean, but if safety is an issue, they will probably need 24/7 assistance. That will mean more than one person probably. And nights will need to be covered since wandering is an issue as the disease progresses.
You would also have the option of having them live with you or a sibling. These decisions are so hard to make. We want to do our best for our parents and tend to have a lot of guilt at this stage. But in spite of that guilt, it is very possible that even if you want them to be home with you, it may not be the best for them.
For your sake too, think carefully about other alternatives first. You are all in different phases of the journey. Maybe you already realize that Alzheimer’s is hard. Hard not just on them, but on you too. The care they will require can be very strenuous and very personal. Change happens often. You think you’re settled in at one point, then something else comes up. The stress alone can be very hard on you and your family.
Think too of how you will watch them. The empty teapot or smoke filled kitchen may occur in your home as easily as theirs. They can open the door and be down the street before you know it. And if you are a heavy sleeper, will you hear if they wander during the night?
Nevertheless, it may be your choice for a while at least. If so, make sure the primary caregiver gets regular breaks. They need time outside of Alzheimer’s caregiving. Occasionally Dad would get frustrated with mom because she couldn’t understand him. He’d ask her for a tissue and she’d hand him the TV remote. She would get stressed because Dad was upset, but she didn’t know what to do. That’s one small example. When you live daily with a loved one who has Alzheimer’s/dementia, it IS sometimes frustrating. It is a constant thing you can’t change. It’s so important for that caregiver to have contact with others, and to get away sometimes, to have some other stimulation. Balance is required!
You have several options for help there too. More communities are offering a program of senior day care now, some at no cost. It’s definitely worth checking into. It gets them out to socialize with other people too. You could hire another senior or senior couple looking for a little extra income to “senior sit” for you, so you can get away for a few hours. Or they can come while you are home so you can get things done at home.
Many assisted living facilities offer respite care as well. If you were going out of town, for instance, they will watch your loved one. There is normally a fee, but it would give you peace of mind.
Another possibility is a smaller home, usually to a max of 6 beds, where your parent would live. These homes are often less expensive, but usually don’t have a nurse on call. They are normally set up in large homes though, where a resident might feel more comfortable, as if in their own home.
The other choice is an Assisted living/Memory care facility. This has been our choice. And it will be the topic of the next blog.