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Alzheimer’s Nursing Homes : How To Find The Best Home For Mom Or Dad

Alzheimer’s nursing home - senior woman playing puzzles with caregiver

Over time, it may become unsafe for your elderly mom or dad with Alzheimer’s to continue to live at home. Worsened symptoms may make them unable to provide their care, or you or a family caregiver may be experiencing burnout.

In such cases long-term care in an Alzheimer’s nursing home may be what you need to ensure your elderly loved one lives a quality life.

However, nursing homes are a dime a dozen, and finding the right one may be challenging. In this article, we explore long-term care options for seniors with Alzheimer’s, what to look for in an Alzheimer’s nursing home, and tips for making the move smooth.

Let’s get started.

Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia among older adults. It’s a brain condition that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It is progressive, as symptoms worsen over time.

The disease is characterized by the following:

  • Memory Loss: Difficulty recalling recent events or conversations is one of the initial signs. As the disease progresses, memory problems worsen, and people may lose the ability to recognize family members or familiar places.
  • Cognitive Decline: This includes difficulties with problem-solving, planning, completing familiar tasks, and understanding visual or spatial relationships.
  • Behavioral Changes: Mood swings, depression, anxiety, social withdrawal, and changes in personality and behavior can occur.
  • Language Problems: Trouble finding the right words, following conversations, and writing.
  • Disorientation: Losing track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time; sometimes forgetting where they are or how they got there.

What Causes Alzheimer’s Disease

The exact cause of Alzheimer’s is not fully understood, but it involves a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

Senior man with Alzheimer’s disease looking sad

Experts believe an abnormal build-up of proteins in the nerve cells causes Alzheimer’s disease. These proteins are amyloid and tua protein and their accumulation within nerve cells causes the cells to die.

Amyloid proteins form larger masses called plaques, while tau proteins form twisted fibers. Both distort the nerve cells from their proper functioning.

As time passes, these nerve cells’ death results in Alzheimer’s symptoms. Death of nerve cells begins in our part of the brain — often the part that affects memory — and spreads to other areas.

Scientists are still determining what causes the build-up of these proteins in the first place.

Who gets Alzheimer’s?

Older people aged 65 and older have a likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Although some people might develop Alzheimer’s in their 40s or 50s, this is rare.

Alzheimer’s disease is common as it affects 1 in 10 people older than 65. Statistics also show that one-third of people over 85 have the condition.

Stages of Alzheimer’s disease

Most experts and healthcare providers group Alzheimer’s into three stages:

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe

What’s common among each stage is that there is a progressive decline that gets worsened. No two seniors will experience Alzheimer’s the same regardless of whether they are in the same stage.

In the mild stage, which is the noticeable onset of Alzheimer’s, people with dementia experience subtle memory lapses and may have difficulty with complex tasks and organization. They remain largely independent but may need reminders for routine activities.

Symtoms of the mild stage of Alzheimer's disease

In the moderate stage, memory and cognitive decline become more pronounced. Your loved one may struggle with daily activities, experience significant confusion, and show noticeable changes in behavior and personality.

In the severe stage, individuals may find it challenging to communicate. They require full-time assistance and care and see a nose-dive in functional abilities. They may even find it difficult to walk or swallow.

What Treatment Options Are Available?

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease has no cure. However, certain medications can slow down the progression of dementia symptoms.

Medications such as:

  • Cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA antagonists to treat symptoms
  • aducanumab (Aduhelm™) to help reduce amyloid deposits in the brain
  • Donepezil (Aricept®) to treat moderate to severe dementia and help nerve cells communicate
  • Antidepressants to treat depression, restlessness and anxiety
  • Anti-anxiety drugs to treat anxiety
  • Anti-convulsant to treat aggression
  • Anti-psychotic to treat hallucination, paranoia, and agitation

Impact of Alzheimer’s disease on your loved one and family

Alzheimer’s disease affects both the individual and their loved one — everyone suffers. Watching a loved one lose their memory — the cherished moments created, and ultimately your face — can be heart-wrenching.

Watching them lose their ability to communicate and provide their care, or be functional can come as a blow to the guts.

Alzheimer’s disease affects both patients and family - daughter kissing her grandma

It may even be worse for them, especially in the later stages. Restlessness, sundowning, confusion, and disorientation can be difficult to handle. Worse, they don’t know why they behave the way they do, or might not be aware of their behaviors.

As difficult as this period can be, knowing that professional long-term care is available to help them live a quality life is the light in the tunnel for you and the rest of your family.

Alzheimer’s care needs and challenges

Caring for those who can’t care for themselves is one of the most noble acts of selflessness. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be rewarding but challenging.

The care needs changes at each stage, and if it ever gets too much to handle, know that professional help is just around the corner.

Early Stage Care

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one would primarily need support with memory aids and maintaining their independence.

Caregivers may help with reminders for

  • appointments,
  • managing finances, and
  • navigating social situations.

Emotional support is crucial during this period as your loved one may struggle with the initial realization of their diagnosis.

Middle Stage Care

As Alzheimer’s progresses to the middle stage, care needs become more intensive. The type of care will change. Your loved one may require assistance with personal care tasks such as dressing, bathing, and eating.

Managing behavioral changes, such as agitation and wandering, becomes a major challenge.

Caregivers often need to implement safety measures in the home and provide continuous supervision to prevent accidents. Communication difficulties require patience and adaptability from caregivers.

Late Stage Care

In the late stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one will require round-the-clock care. They may lose the ability to perform basic functions, including walking and swallowing.

severe stage Alzheimer's patient in an Alzheimer care center

Caregivers must handle all aspects of daily living and provide comprehensive personal care. The physical and emotional toll on family caregivers is immense, as they manage complex medical needs, frequent health issues, and the emotional distress of seeing a loved one in decline.

Challenges for Caregivers

Being a caregiver for your loved one with dementia comes with its challenges, including physical exhaustion from the demanding nature of care, emotional stress from witnessing the decline of your loved one, and potential financial strain due to the costs of long-term care.

Accessing appropriate resources and support, such as respite care and support groups, is essential to manage your responsibilities and maintain your well-being.

Balancing these care needs while maintaining your health and quality of life is a persistent and significant challenge. A Long-term care facility like an Alzheimer’s nursing home can help you find this balance.

Alzheimer’s Nursing Homes

Alzheimer’s Nursing Home provides memory care services for individuals living with Alzheimer’s and dementia to enhance their quality of life and lift the care burden off family caregivers.

These care facilities can also provide medical care if your loved one has other health conditions besides Alzheimer’s.

The caregivers or staff in memory care facilities are trained in dementia and Alzheimer’s care. They can easily identify and manage symptoms of the disease.

Additionally, the building design is dementia-specific to make living easy for residents. Safety measures such as locks, secured entry and exits, emergency response systems, and enclosed yards are implemented to prevent wandering.

Hallways are circular, and paintings are color-coded or bright to make them easily recognizable.

Here are some benefits of Alzheimer’s nursing homes for people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

1. Specialized Care

Nursing homes that specialize in Alzheimer’s care provide tailored medical and personal care from trained staff who understand the specific needs and challenges of dementia patients. This includes administering medications, managing symptoms, and offering therapeutic activities designed to enhance cognitive function and quality of life.

specialized care for Alzheimer’s in a nursing home

2. Safety and Security

These facilities are designed with the safety of dementia patients in mind, featuring secure environments to prevent wandering and fall prevention measures. This creates a safer living space where your loved one can move about freely within secure areas.

3. Structured Routine

Dementia nursing homes offer structured daily routines that provide stability and reduce anxiety for dementia patients. Regular schedules for meals, activities, and rest can help your beloved senior feel more grounded and less confused.

4. Social Interaction

Being in a community setting allows your loved one to socialize with peers, which can help reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Group activities, social events, and communal dining encourage interaction and engagement, which are beneficial for your loved one’s emotional well-being.

5. Family Support

Alzheimer’s nursing homes offer support not only to residents but also to their families. Regular updates, family counseling, and educational resources help families understand the disease progression and how to cope with the emotional and practical aspects of caregiving.

This support can relieve family members of the full-time caregiving burden and provide peace of mind knowing their loved one is in a safe, caring environment.

What other Alzheimer’s care options are available?

Other senior care options may be suitable for Alzheimer’s patients. They include:

Assisted living facilities

Assisted living facilities provide care for seniors who are losing their independence due to physical health decline. Caregivers assist residents with activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing, dressing, grooming, and eating.

Memory care facilities

This option provides specialized memory care for people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Staff are trained to handle dementia symptoms and the environment is designed for residents to be safe and secure.

senior lady with dementia sitting in a wheelchair receiving care from a nursing facility

Memory care facilities can be standalone, or special care units within a nursing home, residential care community, or an assisted living community.

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)

A CCRC provides different levels of care within a large community. You can find independent living, assisted living, nursing care and supervision, and memory care.

This makes it easier for individuals to transition from one level of care to another as their care needs change.

Comparison Between Alzheimer’s Care Options

It can be confusing to determine which care option would be best for your loved one. Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide.

Since assisted living offers more custodial care, it’s best if your loved one is still in the early stages of dementia, and needs little assistance. Caregivers can help them with personal tasks, and provide routine reminders.

Nursing homes would be beneficial if your loved one has difficulty performing some ADLs, and are in the moderate to severe stage of Alzheimer’s. It’s also beneficial If they also have other health conditions besides Alzheimer’s that require medical care.

Memory care facilities are beneficial if your loved one requires specialized dementia care, but have no other serious health condition. This is because other than routine health conditions, memory care facilities don’t provide specialized medical care like nursing homes except when they are within a larger residential care community.

CCRCs make it easy for your loved one to transition between various levels of care. As their care needs change, they continue to receive care within one facility.

Memory Care with Skilled Nursing

Trained health professionals provide skilled nursing services — high-level medical care, typically in a nursing home, hospital, or home healthcare setting.

These services are necessary for patients who require medical care or rehabilitation that cannot be provided by non-professional caregivers.

Services include:

Combing skilled nursing care with memory care provides comprehensive support for individuals living with dementia and other chronic health conditions.

Choosing the Right Alzheimer’s nursing homes for your loved one

Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right home, and tips for evaluating the quality of care in a home.

memory care nurse with Alzheimer's patient smiling

Factors to consider when selecting a nursing home for a loved one with Alzheimer’s

Here are 5 crucial factors to consider:

1. Specialized Alzheimer’s Care

Choose a nursing home that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. This ensures staff are trained in managing the unique needs and behaviors associated with the disease, and the environment is designed to be safe and supportive for residents with memory impairments.

2. Staff Training and Expertise

Ask about the qualifications and training of the staff, including nurses, caregivers, and therapists. They should have experience and expertise in Alzheimer’s care, including managing medications, behavioral changes, and providing cognitive stimulation.

3. Safety and Security Measures

Assess the nursing home’s safety measures, focusing on protocols to prevent wandering and maintain a secure environment. Look for features such as locked doors, alarms, and supervision to protect residents who may be at risk of wandering.

4. Quality of Life Programs

cognition exercise for seniors in an Alzheimer's nursing home

Consider the programs and activities offered to enhance residents’ quality of life. Look for engaging cognitive activities, therapeutic programs, and social events that promote interaction and mental stimulation. Outdoor spaces and sensory rooms can also contribute positively to residents’ well-being.

5. Family Involvement and Support

Consider the Alzheimer’s nursing home approach to family involvement and support. Look for opportunities for family participation in care planning, regular communication updates, and support groups or educational resources to help families understand and cope with Alzheimer’s disease.

6. Pricing and costs

Considering the cost of care is crucial when selecting an Alzheimer’s nursing home. Try to understand base fees for accommodation and basic medical care, as well as additional costs for specialized services and amenities. Understand your funding options too such as Medicare, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and other ways to pay for care.

Tips for evaluating the quality of care in Alzheimer’s nursing homes

Evaluating the quality of care to make an informed decision can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you do so.

  • Visit the Facility: Pay visits to potential nursing homes and observe the environment. Pay attention to cleanliness, organization, and how staff interact with residents.
  • Observe Staff Interactions: Watch how staff interact with residents. They should demonstrate patience, respect, and empathy towards individuals with Alzheimer’s. Note how they handle challenging behaviors and whether they engage residents in meaningful activities.
  • Review Staffing Levels: Inquire about staff-to-resident ratios and the qualifications of caregivers. Adequate staffing is essential for providing personalized care and ensuring your loved one’s needs are met promptly.
  • Assess Safety Measures: Evaluate safety protocols, especially those specific to Alzheimer’s care. Look for measures to prevent wandering, such as secured areas, alarms, and monitoring systems. Ensure that staff are trained in handling emergencies and medical crises.
  • Check for Personalized Care Plans: Ask about individualized care plans tailored to each resident’s needs. These plans should address medical, dietary, and personal care requirements, as well as behavioral management strategies for Alzheimer’s symptoms.
  • Review Inspections and Ratings: Research the facility’s inspection reports, ratings, and accreditation status. Government agencies such as Medicare provide ratings based on health inspections, staffing levels, and quality measures.
  • Talk to Other Families: Seek feedback from current residents’ families about their experiences with the nursing home. Ask about communication with staff, responsiveness to concerns, and overall satisfaction with the care provided.
  • Evaluate Resident Well-being: Assess the overall well-being of residents. Look for signs of contentment, social interaction, and physical health. Speak with residents if possible to gauge their satisfaction with the care and environment.
  • Trust Your Instincts: Trust your instincts during visits and interactions with staff. Choose a nursing home where you feel confident that your loved one will receive compassionate care and support tailored to their Alzheimer’s needs.

Making the Transition

Senior woman moving to an Alzheimer’s nursing home

Transitioning from home care to an Alzheimer’s nursing home may not be as easy as you’d love to think especially for your loved one. Here are some tips to make the transition smooth.

1. Plan Ahead: Start planning the transition early to allow time for adjustment. Discuss the move with your loved one and involve them in decisions as much as possible depending on the level of their cognition. Also, consider their preferences and comfort.

2. Visit the Facility Together: Schedule visits to the nursing home before the move. Familiarize your loved one with the environment, introduce them to staff members, and participate in activities if possible. This can help reduce anxiety and create familiarity.

3. Personalize the Space: Bring familiar items from home to decorate and personalize your loved one’s room in the nursing home. Familiar objects such as photos, favorite blankets, and cherished possessions can provide comfort and a sense of continuity.

4. Maintain Routines: As much as possible, maintain familiar routines from home, such as meal times and daily activities. Consistency can help ease the transition and provide a sense of security.

5. Communicate with Staff: Share information about your loved one’s preferences, routines, and medical history with the nursing home staff. Establish open communication channels to address any concerns and ensure continuity of care.

6. Support Emotional Well-being: Acknowledge and validate your loved one’s feelings about the move. Offer emotional support and reassurance during this transition period. Stay positive and focus on the benefits of specialized care and support available at the nursing home.

Offer comfort and reassurance during visits and phone calls. Listen attentively to their concerns and validate their emotions.

7. Stay Involved: Stay actively involved in your loved one’s care after the move. Visit regularly, participate in care planning meetings, and communicate with staff to stay informed about their well-being and any adjustments needed.

8. Take Care of Yourself: Transitioning a loved one to a nursing home can be emotionally and physically demanding. Take care of yourself by seeking support from friends, family, or support groups. Self-care allows you to better support your loved one during this transition.

9. Give Time to Adjust: Recognize that adjusting to a new living arrangement takes time. Be patient with yourself and your loved one as they settle into their new environment and routines.

Get Exceptional and Compassionate Alzheimer’s Care with Amy’s Eden

Alzheimer’s care in Nevada - Amy’s Eden

You don’t have to navigate the complexities of your loved one’s Alzheimer’s care journey alone. Knowing help is accessible can make a big difference.

Amy’s Eden provides compassionate Alzheimer’s and dementia care to enhance your loved one’s quality of life. With caregivers who treat your loved one like family, you can have peace of mind knowing your beloved senior is in safe hands.

Contact us today to learn more about our Alzheimer’s care services, and how we can be an ally in these challenging times.

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