Your Dad has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Twice last week you found him on the floor in his home after he had lost his balance. He was confused and had been unable to get up by himself.
Living completely alone is no longer an option. You are his caregiver. Now it’s time for a major decision. Does Dad come to live with you? Or has that time passed? Is it time to place him in a facility?
This will be one of the hardest choices you will ever have to face. And there is no right resolution. You will have to decide on the basis of your own individual situation. There are both pros and cons to having a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease live with you and you need to consider each very carefully.
- What your loved one wants – Almost no one wants to move into a nursing facility, especially someone with Alzheimer’s disease. They want to stay in a familiar environment where they feel comfortable, where they have some control, where their memories are. You will be providing a place for your loved one where he or she will be loved.
- What your loved one’s family wants – As long as they are not the caregiver, the rest of the family will probably want you to care for him or her at home. They may feel that moving Dad to a nursing home is a betrayal. Harsh, but it happens.
- What your family wants – Your spouse and your children should have a say in this decision as well. Without their support you will not be able to provide the care your loved one needs.
- The financial aspects – Some people simply cannot afford to place a loved one in a nursing facility. The expense is a strain on most people even if they have sufficient funds. Keeping your loved one at home as long as possible eases that concern somewhat.
- The guilt factor – This is an important consideration. Placing your loved one in a nursing home feels like putting him or her in… someplace very odd, no matter how nice the facility is or how caring the staff. You may always feel that you can and should give better care at home.
- Caregiver stress – Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is not something that can be done by one person. You will need help. Even if your family is willing to assist, you will not be able to avoid feeling stressed. You are very likely to burn out, becoming irritable with everyone and resentful of the burden your loved one now is. You are likely to let that anger make you impatient, straining all the relationships in the household.
- Marital strain – Your spouse may be 100% supportive, but you will be spending a lot of time helping your loved one with all the tasks he or she can no longer handle dressing, bathing, eating, playing games, going shopping or to appointments. This will leave you less time and energy for your marriage.
- Family stress – Your children and other members of the family will suffer the same lack of attention and time and they will be more likely to resent the intrusion into their lives.
- Work stress – Your relationships and performance at work may deteriorate if you are under too much stress at home.
Studies have shown that keeping people with Alzheimer’s disease at home for as long as possible not only improves their quality of life, but keeps them alive longer. The key here is to get help. Dad will be much happier living at home, but not if you burn out quickly and are unable to be patient with him.
You’ll need time for yourself to stay healthy, both physically and psychologically, in order to deal with all the responsibilities.
Help is available.
- There are adult daycare centers, where seniors are entertained during the day.
- In home care is available. Caregivers can come and spend time with your loved one for a few hours a week or every day, allowing you to get out and run errands or take the family to dinner and a movie. This is the Keystone sweet spot.
- Respite care allows you to place your loved one in a facility for a few days while you go on vacation or just take time off.
Eventually you may have to place your loved one in a nursing home as he or she deteriorates. You should not feel guilty when this time comes. When the burden becomes too heavy, you must evaluate your remaining options for the entire family’s sake.
If you’re family situation is not clear cut, contact us at Keystone In Home care and we can discuss options a plan for you and your loved one. Also, we have a resource center that can help answer some of your questions.