Is Home Care or a Nursing Facility Better for Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s?
Circumstances surrounding caregiving differ from family to family. Some prefer to provide care at home, while others choose to place their loved ones in a caring facility. There is a debate about which choice is best.
Our family was fortunate. My sister and I lived in neighboring towns and cared for our mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease, in our homes, right up until the day she left us. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we were in the majority. About 80% of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias receive care in their homes, often from family members or friends.
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias present similar challenges to all caregivers, and those challenges gain momentum with time. However, the physical, emotional, and financial ability to meet those challenges varies. Don’t allow someone to pressure you into a situation that doesn’t work for your loved one or you and your family. Depending on your circumstances, a nursing facility might be the right choice from the beginning, or going forward when symptoms and stages become overwhelming.
Things to look out for
You know the old saying, “One spoiled apple spoils the whole bunch?” The few poor nursing facilities that exist stigmatize the many good ones and cause loved ones to fear placement. But you can match your loved one to a nursing facility that meets their needs for a higher level of care.
Depending on your circumstances, the following signs may indicate your loved one needs more care than you can provide at home:
- Mobility. Naturally, mobility is often an issue for older people, but those in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease may lose their ability to walk. Getting them up from a chair or bed becomes more difficult for at-home caregivers.
- Falls become more frequent.
- Refusing to eat is causing your loved one to lose weight and is affecting their physical health.
- Swallowing is an issue and makes it difficult to take medications.
- Incontinence increases.
- Showering, bathing, and hygiene are more significant challenges for caregivers.
- Your loved one is becoming combative and possibly a danger to those living in the home.
- Round-the-clock supervision is required.
- Caregivers are experiencing burnout.
Choosing the right nursing facility
A good start for choosing a suitable nursing facility is learning whether it is certified by Medicare or Medicaid, which you can check by visiting Medicare’s website.
Identify the needs of your loved one and compare them with the nursing facility’s services. Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities will provide the information in writing, and charges are also included.
Research facilities close to where you live, so it’s easier to check in with your family member. When researching the facility, be sure to ask about visitation. Can you drop in without scheduling time? Dementia patients will require special care.
Finally, inspections are required by state and local governments. You can access this survey to learn if a facility meets federal health and safety regulations. Ask the facility for the survey or access it via Medicare.gov or your state survey agency’s website.
There probably always will be a debate surrounding nursing facilities and in-home care. Caregivers must choose based on the level of care required and their ability to provide that care. Guilt and pressure have no place in the decision.
Note: Alzheimer’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Alzheimer’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Alzheimer’s disease.