Choosing care for your loved one can be a complicated decision.
It's okay if you reach a point where you are no longer capable of providing care. Caring for a person with Alzheimer's disease* is often very difficult. Family and other unpaid caregivers may experience high levels of emotional stress and depression as a result.1
In this section, find out what types of long-term care are available. Learn what to do if your loved one is already in a nursing home or assisted living facility and you suspect Alzheimer's symptoms. And find out the benefits of maintaining treatment when a loved one is in long-term care.
There may be times when you need to step back from the demands in your life. You need to take breaks and get time to yourself. Whenever you need a break, respite care may be an option. This is an excellent option for caregivers without family around to help out. Ask your doctor or local Alzheimer's Association chapter for respite care programs in your area.
Specific types of respite care include:
Short-Term In-Home Care.
One of the most common types of respite care takes place in the home. In-home care may include keeping your loved one company, helping with personal care, having skilled nursing care, or helping with household chores.
Adult Day Care.
Another common type of respite care takes place at adult day care. At most adult day care programs, the staff plans games, activities, and support groups. Meals and a ride to and from day care may be part of the program.
Short-Term Nursing Home Care.
For more extended time away, short-term nursing home care may be an option. Some nursing homes may accept residents for a short period of time to give their caregivers a break.
Day care, in-home care, and short-term nursing home care give your loved one a chance to meet and spend time with others. And they can give you a much-needed break for yourself.
Long-Term Care Options.
As a caregiver, you might already be thinking about your loved one's long-term needs. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, the symptoms may get worse. There may come a point when your loved one needs more care than you can provide on your own.
You might find long-term care hard to face. You might feel guilty about it. You are not alone in feeling that way. Talk to the doctor about what you're feeling. Partner with him/her and explain your current situation. Together, you can evaluate your loved one's changing needs. The doctor may be able to guide you in making the right choice for your loved one. Don't take it all on yourself. Remember, any decision you make is the right one for you.
If you decide to use long-term care, there are a lot of options to consider:
Long-Term In-Home Care.
If your loved one needs more help than you can provide, home care might be an answer. Home care can provide the support and extra help that a loved one needs to stay at home with a caregiver. In-home care may include any of the following:
- Health and medical care
- Friendly visits
- Help with personal care
- Cooking and housekeeping
Assisted living allows people to live in an apartment-like setting. Care and support is available when it is needed. Assisted living facilities may:
- Provide meals
- Help with bathing, dressing, taking medicine, and housekeeping
- Offer recreation opportunities
Nursing Home Care.
Nursing homes provide services and oversight around the clock by trained professionals. If nursing home care is the right choice for your loved one, look for places with special units for patients with Alzheimer's disease.
A move to a facility is a big change for both you and your loved one. If possible, you should have support during the transition. Friends, family, or a social worker may be able to help.
Check with your insurance company to see what services they cover for long-term care. Coverage varies by company and by state.
If you decide to use a care facility, there are a few things to consider:
Planning for Care.
Planning can be overwhelming if you don't know where to begin. This list can help you start organizing for placement in a care facility.
Find out what your loved one's wishes are.
- Discuss their current health status
- Figure out how to work together
Find out where all important documents and passwords are.
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Safe deposit boxes
- Wills, trusts
- Advance directives
Establish what type of care will be required.
- Talk with your loved one about his or her preferences
- A geriatric care manager or social worker can help you figure out what works best for your loved one
- Visit different types of facilities (nursing homes, assisted living) in your area
- Consider all physical and mental health conditions that your loved one has as part of your evaluation criteria
Get informed about financial considerations.
- Call different types of care facilities to see how much each will cost
- Ask them what types of insurance they accept
- Call your loved one's insurance company to see which expenses and how much of the costs they cover (Medicare/Medicaid differ by state)
- Locate your loved one's insurance policy documentation and ID card
- Find out if your loved one has long-term care insurance
- Find out how much Social Security your loved one receives
- Ask if your loved one receives any other pensions or benefits
Understand the legal issues and implications.
- Get important information from your loved one's lawyer, if available
- Establish whether your loved one can make decisions or pay bills
- If not, find out about getting a power of attorney
- Talk to an eldercare attorney who specializes in the geriatric field
Even though your loved one is in a facility, your role as caregiver is still important. But now you work in partnership with the doctors, nurses, and assistants who staff the care facility.
It takes a team of professionals and family members to ensure the best care. Besides regular visits, you can still help your loved one by:
- Evaluating their condition, noticing any changes in memory, attitude, or normal abilities
- Mentioning any changes you see to the staff
- Regularly checking with staff to see how your loved one is doing
- Meeting with or calling your loved one's doctors to stay informed about existing or new conditions, what medications they are taking, etc
Always keep the conversation open between you and the facility staff. You rely on them for day-to-day care and they rely on you for patient history. You might provide information about your loved one that will help them diagnose and treat new and existing conditions.
It is estimated that almost 70% of long-term care residents have some type of impairment, which may include dementia.*1 And approximately 70% of dementia is Alzheimer's.2
This Web site and the information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal or financial advice about matters discussed. This Web site is for providing general helpful information to members of the public who may need to seek the assistance of a licensed attorney and financial advisor for any legal or eldercare advice.
- Omnicare analysis of matched MDS records and prescription claims. July 25, 2006.
- 2014 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.
*ARICEPT (donepezil HCl) is only indicated for dementia of the Alzheimer's type.
ARICEPT® (donepezil HCl) is a prescription medicine to treat mild, moderate, and severe Alzheimer's disease.
Before starting on ARICEPT 23 mg/day, patients should be on ARICEPT 10 mg/day for at least 3 months. The starting dose of ARICEPT is 5 mg/day and can be increased to 10 mg/day after 4–6 weeks. Please take ARICEPT as prescribed by the doctor.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
ARICEPT is not for everyone, including people who are allergic to any ingredients in ARICEPT or to medicines that contain piperidines.
Tell the doctor if your loved one takes nonprescription or prescription medicines, including those used to treat Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease; anticholinergic medicines, such as allergy or cold medicine; medicines to treat bladder or bowel spasms; or certain asthma medicines.
ARICEPT may cause slow heartbeat and fainting. This happens more often in people with heart problems. Call the doctor right away if the patient faints while taking ARICEPT. People may also have seizures while taking ARICEPT. They may also have difficulty passing urine. Lung problems, including asthma, may worsen with the use of ARICEPT. Tell the doctor that the patient takes ARICEPT before they have any procedure that may require anesthesia, including dental and medical procedures or surgery.
People at risk for stomach ulcers or who take certain other medicines, such as aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), should tell their doctor because serious stomach problems, such as bleeding, may get worse.
In a study, more side effects were seen with ARICEPT 23 mg than with ARICEPT 10 mg. Many more people taking ARICEPT 23 mg experienced nausea and vomiting than those taking ARICEPT 10 mg. These side effects may get better after the patient takes ARICEPT for a while. Other side effects that were seen more often with ARICEPT 23 mg were stomach ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and weight loss. People of lower weight (less than 121 lbs) may have increased nausea, vomiting, and weight loss when taking ARICEPT 23 mg.
Other side effects of ARICEPT may include diarrhea, difficulty sleeping, vomiting, or muscle cramps. Some people may feel tired or may have loss of appetite.