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Alzheimer's: What You Need to Know to Provide the Right Care for Your Loved One

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease can be painful and upsetting, both for the person receiving the news and for their family and friends. You will almost certainly be concerned about how this condition will impact the day-to-day lives, both now and as it progresses, of everyone involved.

Alzheimer’s Disease affects a person’s memory, but it can also mean they struggle with routine daily tasks such as washing, dressing, cooking and eating, and they may no longer be able to continue living independently. They might also exhibit challenging behaviour, which can be difficult to deal with.

Starting a conversation

If your loved one is facing the challenge of living with Alzheimer’s Disease, it is important that you begin a conversation with them now so you can find out about their wishes for their long-term care.

Discussing dementia care in the early stages of the condition will ensure you know what your loved one wants. Later on, you may take some comfort in the fact that you’re acting in their best interests and according to their expressed wishes.

When asked, the majority of older people say that independent living is important to them and that they would much rather remain living in their own homes for as long as possible. For those living with dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, this is important, as being surrounded by familiar things and spaces can bring a sense of security and comfort.

Moving into a dementia care home can be a distressing experience for someone experiencing memory loss, and they may find it hard to cope with the noise and constant change of communal living in a residential home. In many cases, the most appropriate course of action will be to organise an in-home care package.

Preparing for dementia care

One of the first things you need to consider is how your loved one’s healthcare and financial needs will be managed when they are no longer able to do it themselves. Of course, it’s painful to look a future when they can no longer make their own decisions, but it’s important that you open a dialogue with them now, while they are still able to express their wishes. It may be a good idea to set up a Power of Attorney, which will enable you to make decisions on their behalf, as their condition progresses.

You will also need to consider how much care they will need in the coming years. As their condition progresses, most people with Alzheimer’s or dementia will need 24/7 care, to ensure they are both safe and have the highest possible quality of life. This care may given in a residential home setting, or it may mean looking for a dedicated live-in carer, to look after your loved one in their own home.

Dulcie’s care story

Dulcie is one of our longest serving customers. In this video, she and her family talk through their decision to arrange care in the home rather than the care home.

Care home or care at home?

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are degenerative conditions, and people can be affected for many years. While your loved one may only need a minimum of help in the early stages, those who are entering the later stages of these conditions usually require 24/7 care. Sometimes this can be done by family members, but that is not always a practical or desirable solution, as caring for someone with this condition can put huge strain on a relationship.

In some instances, a care home may be a suitable option although, for many people requiring elderly care, it is not ideal. Many people are reluctant to go into care and, understandably, would prefer to remain in their own homes. In-home care could involve daily visits from a domiciliary worker who will assist with basic tasks, but there are downsides to this model. Domiciliary workers’ visits are often strictly limited, and there is no guarantee that they will arrive at the agreed time if their schedule is disrupted. It also means your loved one is left alone for considerable lengths of time. For someone suffering from memory loss, visits from multiple carers to help with intimate tasks, such as washing, can also be bewildering.

Considering live-in care

One cost-effective alternative to placing your loved one in a care home is live-in care. Some people choose to employ a dedicated carer directly, but others will seek the help of a specialist private care agency. If you choose to find home care through a reputable agency, it will manage all the complexities of the carer’s pay, National Insurance and cover for holiday time or sick leave, leaving you free to concentrate on your loved one.

With private live-in care, your loved one is matched with a dedicated live-in carer, who will be trained in Alzheimer’s support. They will share their home with them, day and night, offering all the assistance and companionship the care recipient needs to maintain a sense of independent living. As well as helping with day-to-day tasks, such as washing, dressing, going to the toilet and eating, the caregiver will assist your loved one by preparing nutritious meals, taking them to appointments and social events and keeping them company. If your loved one has pets, the carer may also help with looking after them.

Whatever sort of Alzheimer’s care you arrange for your loved one, preparing for the future with them now means you know you have respected their wishes further down the line. With live-in care, those with dementia can continue to live in their own homes, with their familiar routines and the respect and dignity they deserve.

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