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Alzheimer's Care for Your Loved One

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At some point, your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease will need help caring for herself and may not be able to live alone. Long-term care facilities can help you make sure she’s safe and getting the attention she needs. There are many options, and it’s important to find the one that’s right for both of you.

Care services for people with Alzheimer’s usually fall into three groups:

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Understanding Alzheimer's Disease -- Symptoms

The symptoms of Alzheimer's disease often come on slowly. It might start when someone has trouble recalling things that just happened or putting thoughts into words. But over time, the problems get worse. People in the later stages of the disease usually can’t live alone or care for themselves. There are three main phases of Alzheimer's: mild, moderate, and severe. Each stage has its own set of symptoms.

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  • Respite care
  • Residential care
  • Hospice

Respite Care

This kind of service gives caregivers a few hours of relief from the day-to-day demands of looking after a person with Alzheimer’s. You can always ask a family member or friend to help out for a few hours, but there are two main types of professional services:

  • In-home services. Your loved one can get help with housekeeping and personal care, like bathing, dressing, and exercising. Some organizations offer help with medication and medical care. Although there are government programs that provide these services, you may need to hire someone privately or through an agency.
  • Adult day services. This is the best way to ensure that your loved one keeps interacting with others. You can often find these programs in community centers. Staff lead different activities throughout the day, such as support groups, dance programs, musical activities, and games. They usually provide transportation and meals, too.

Check with community organizations or residential facilities in your area to see if they offer respite care.

Residential Care

The decision to move your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease into a residential facility isn’t easy, but it’s often the best way to make sure she gets the level of care she needs. There are three main types:

  • Retirement housing. This kind of setting is better for someone with early Alzheimer's who can still care for herself and live alone safely but would have a hard time managing an entire house. Generally, these places don’t have 24-hour supervision, and the staff may know very little about dementia.
  • Basic assisted living. This is the step between living independently and living in a nursing home. Assisted-living facilities offer housing and meals, as well as health care services and any other support your loved one needs, like help with chores or bathing.
  • Nursing homes. When someone needs round-the-clock care and long-term medical treatment, this may be the best choice. A good nursing home will be able to address a lot of needs, such as daily care planning, social activities, spirituality, nutrition, and medical care. Many facilities have special units designed for people with dementia.
  • Continuum care retirement communities. These offer the different levels of residential care -- independent living, assisted living, and nursing home services -- in one location. Residents can move within the facility to get different services when their needs change.
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