Long-Term Care Options For Dementia Patients

Written By: William Rivers
Reviewed By: William Rivers
Published: May 6, 2022
Last updated: March 31, 2023

It's critical to understand and carefully examine long-term care alternatives if you're caring for a family member who has dementia or Alzheimer's disease. As the disease progresses, the care required will most likely vary.  

Long-term care options for dementia patients should best suit your elderly loved ones. Read on to know which type of long-term care for dementia patients is ideal for their needs.

When Should Your Elderly Loved Ones Receive Dementia Care?

Dementia is progressive, which means that the individual with the disease will require more care and support as time passes. As your loved one's condition deteriorates, their requirements will grow, and despite your best efforts, you may not be able to meet their needs fully.

There is no cure for dementia, and a person's physical and mental health will only deteriorate as time passes due to stress and mental challenges. 

However, if they require 24-hour supervision and help stay safe and have a good quality of life, residential care may be their only alternative. Thus, considering the following types of long-term care options is the first step.

Assisted Living Facilities (ALF)

ALFs provide an intermediate level of care, with residents receiving hands-on support with activities of daily living, and many provide a variety of add-on care services for a fee. Patients with mild to severe dementia frequently spend a significant amount of time in this setting. 

Daily personal care allows them to preserve their health and safety while preserving part of their freedom, yet assisted living has limitations. If a resident has an emergency, staff members are available to help around the clock. 

However, if one resident constantly requires assistance, it detracts from the care others receive and usually indicates that it's time to move to the next level of senior living. 

Memory Care Residences

Memory care is available in a standalone facility, a secure wing of an assisted living facility, or a continuing care campus with many levels of care in one location. While the physical environment may differ, all memory care facilities strive to provide long-term residential care suited to those with mid to late-stage dementia. 

Dementia care is well-known among the specialists that operate at this level of senior living. Staff members understand the difficult behaviors that may arise. They are trained in how to diffuse tensions, how to communicate with their residents, and how to recognize subtle signs of a resident's mental or physical health.

Nursing Homes

Nursing homes, often known as skilled nursing facilities, provide the highest level of long-term care. This facility provides competent nursing care and ADL support around the clock. 

Staff members have varying levels of medical knowledge. They can help with medication administration, IVs, injections, wound care, and other specialized medical duties often unavailable in the other settings described.

When dementia patients move to a nursing home, they are frequently in the final stages of the disease. Many people are incontinent at this stage of the disease and may be unable to walk safely, communicate, or feed themselves. These high-level needs necessitate careful care and supervision, which a nursing home can only provide.

Seeking assistance can help relieve the physical and mental strains of caregiving, and the sooner you start thinking about it, the better. If you start planning ahead of time, you'll have more time to research local resources and costs. At Senior Strong, you can find out which activities can benefit your loved ones with dementia.

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William Rivers is an editor with a master’s degree in Human Services Counseling at Maine State University. He has more than 20 years of experience working in the senior healthcare industry.
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