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Can someone with Dementia Live in the Comfort of Their Home

August 19, 2021

The Can someone with Dementia Live in the Comfort of Their Home: As seniors living at home independently get older, it may seem natural to experience some memory loss. Sometimes we all forget the name of that book we read last year; or whether we paid the electric bill this month. But more serious memory loss may be a sign of dementia.

Because it can have a variety of causes; it may be useful to think of dementia as the symptom of a condition or disease; rather than a disease itself. But practically speaking, no matter what stage of the disease seniors in home care are in. It can be difficult for people living with dementia; to continue living at home, even if living at home is what they prefer.

Diseases and Conditions that Cause Dementia

Most people assume that a person with dementia has Alzheimer’s disease, But as statisticians say; “60% doesn’t round up to 100%,”. Meaning that while Alzheimer’s is a significant cause of dementia, there are more causes than just Alzheimer’s. Other causes include:

  • Vascular Dementia, which is when brain function is disrupted by blood flow problems. In effect, the brain isn’t getting enough blood flow to function properly.
  • Lewy Body Dementia. Lewy bodies are proteins that are usually found in Parkinson’s patients that can cause dementia when found in the brain’s cells.
  • Frontotemporal Dementia is the most common in people under the age of 60. It generally presents less as memory loss and more as a gradual decline in behavior, movement and language.
  • Sometimes, more than one of the above causes is present, leading to a diagnosis of “Mixed Dementia.”
  • Other, less common causes of dementia are Huntington’s Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob’s Disease, Parkinson’s, HIV, Korsakoff Syndrome and Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus. These make up a tiny fraction of dementia cases, but can also be present as part of Mixed Dementia.

The Stages of Dementia

As the disease progresses, family members may notice the signs of decline before the person with dementia does. There are generally considered to be seven stages of dementia, which should not be confused with the three stages of Alzheimer’s (which are just classified as Early Stage, Middle Stage, and Late Stage). The seven stages of dementia are:

  • Stage 1: No dementia seen.
  • Stage 2: Age-related forgetfulness and subjective memory loss. The person still does well on memory tests, but believes their memory is declining.
  • Stage 3: Mild cognitive impairment, This is where family caregivers may start to recognize changes in thinking, memory or comprehension. A senior in Stage 3 may begin to repeat their statements more frequently.
  • Stage 4: Moderate Cognitive Decline and Mild Dementia. The person may show signs of poor short-term memory.  And have more trouble with executive function such as organization, remembering to pay bills, or forgetting appointments.

Making a Plan to Care for Seniors with Dementia  Of course, seniors with dementia (and their families) should discuss what kind of care is right with their medical professional. And that conversation needs to include what happens when the disease progresses as well. Because sometimes it can be difficult to recognize the signs of worsening dementia. 

The Stages Continued

  • Stage 5: Moderately Severe Cognitive Decline and Moderate Dementia. Inability to recall information like their own phone number, friends’ and relatives’ names is common at this stage. They may begin to have difficulty with some Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), such as selecting proper clothing for the season.
  • Stage 6: Severe Cognitive Decline, Moderately Severe Dementia. The person may forget their spouse’s name and they don’t remember recent events or life experiences. They’ll also have more difficulty with ADLs such as personal care.
  • Stage 7. Very Severe Cognitive Decline, Severe Dementia. This is the final stage of dementia, and a person in this stage will require constant care. They may no longer be able to speak or walk independently. They can also lose the ability to even sit up or smile.

Is There a Cure? 

While there are no cures for dementia or Alzheimer’s, there are some drugs that have been shown to slow the progression of the disease. However, they don’t work for everyone and can be expensive; You may have heard of a controversial new Alzheimer’s drug being approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that was not shown to be nearly as effective as it had been hoped.

That drug’s approval by the FDA shows the state of desperation by the healthcare community to provide any kind of help to patients with dementia. While that fight continues, seniors need to continue living with dementia.

Making the Decision to Live at Home 

The question remains: can someone with dementia continue to live in the comfort of their own home? The frustrating answer, of course, is “it depends.” However, there are options in care that do not involve a nursing home, memory care facility, or assisted living. While living at home instead of in a congregate facility is usually framed as a personal preference issue, there are tangible benefits to aging in place as well, including:

  • Overall health. As we age, our immune systems get weaker, leaving elderly people more vulnerable to infection. If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that facilities like nursing homes can quickly turn into hotbeds of infections.
  • Quality of life: Studies have shown that elderly dementia patients experience a higher quality of life than those who are in a nursing home. Even when controlling for the severity of disease, the patients who lived in their own home had a better quality of life.
  • Cost. Nobody likes to think they make health-related decisions based on cost, but in many cases, it can be a huge factor. Nursing homes and memory care facilities have enormous costs associated with them that can wipe out a senior’s life savings in no time.

With all that in mind, how can a senior with dementia successfully and safely remain in the comfort of their own home?

Home Care Services May Be an Answer for Seniors with Dementia

When seniors suffer from dementia, one of the ways they may start exhibiting signs of the condition is a lack of ability to bathe or dress themselves. Additionally, they may be forgetful when it comes to medications.

For these reasons and many others, having an at-home care aide may present a viable alternative to a nursing home or assisted living. In-home caregivers from a home care agency can provide essential services for seniors who struggle with daily living but who do not need constant medical care, including:

  • Personal care. Bathing, dressing and toileting can become difficult for people with Alzheimer’s. Having a trained professional caregiver available to assist can relieve the stress associated with these daily functions.
  • Errands. Even people in the earlier stages shouldn’t drive themselves, and it can be difficult for them to get to places like the post office or pharmacy on their own.
  • Social interaction and companionship. Social isolation has been associated with a 50% increase in the risk of dementia. Having an in-home care aide can reduce that risk.
  • Medication reminders: From setting a schedule to reminding seniors to take their medications to making sure they don’t miss a needed refill, caregivers can keep seniors with dementia on track with their medications.

More Home Care Services May Include:

  • Light housekeeping and laundry: Keeping their home straightened up can be difficult, and clutter can lead to falls. Not to mention, a senior with dementia may forget to do laundry and not have clean clothes available.
  • Meal preparation and planning. Cooking can be hazardous, and people with dementia are a risk to hurt themselves, be it by forgetting that a stove burner is on or forgetting to turn off the oven. Additionally, having healthy meals available is an important part of maintaining seniors’ health.

Best of all, these services can be provided to elderly people living at home at no cost to them if they qualify, and in some circumstances can even have a family member become a paid caregiver for them.

Making a Plan to Care for Seniors with Dementia

Of course, seniors (and their families) should discuss what kind of care is right with their medical professional. And that conversation needs to include what happens when the disease progresses as well. Because sometimes it can be difficult to recognize the signs of worsening dementia.

Home Care Powered by AUAF Can Help Your Elderly Relatives with Stay at Home

The worry felt by family members about their elderly loved ones is the invisible side effects of dementia.  The peace of mind that comes with having a trained professional at-home care aide can be a huge benefit; to both the elderly person with dementia and their family. Find out more about the services provided by Home Care Powered by AUAF by contacting us or calling (773) 274-9262.

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