Assisted Living and Your Loved One With Alzheimer’s

WebMD Medical Reference in Collaboration with the Cecil G. Sheps Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Logo for UNC Chapel Hill, Cecil G. Sheps Center

It's common to have strong emotions after someone you’ve been caring for enters a nursing home or assisted living community. You might not know how to spend your time, or you could feel guilty or anxious about their care. You may also wonder if you’ve made the right decision. Even though the move may be necessary, it’s common to second-guess yourself or feel sad.

If you think it would be helpful, talk about your feelings with your family, friends, or pastor. Support groups for caregivers or a counselor can help, too.

If Your Loved One Is Unhappy or Angry

Unless their dementia is advanced, your loved one is probably going to have something to say about moving into a new care setting. Sometimes, family caregivers are surprised at how well they take to the new setting. But other times, especially in early or mid-stage dementia, they may blame you and regularly ask to be taken home.

Remind yourself why you made the decision and why it was the right one, and give them lots of love and attention to help them adjust to the new living situation.

Concerns About Day-to-Day Care

The most common concern of family caregivers is that their loved one isn’t getting good care. This can be hard to adjust to, because while family caregivers typically care for one person, nursing assistants are usually assigned to eight or more people at a time. And while many have experience and are sensitive to the needs of the people in their care, some have little training.

The best way to deal with any concerns about care is to talk to the staff member involved in a calm way. Most of the time, the issue can be solved this way. If not, talk to the administrator or nursing director.

It’s also a good idea to build good relationships with the care providers. Remember that staff members work hard, have schedules and other pressures, and want to be treated with consideration and respect. Visit the facility often, and share what you know. Tell them what’s being done well, and gently let them know what you'd like to see and when you don't see it.

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Issues With Abuse or Loss of Valuables

While abuse by professional caregivers is much less common than abuse at home, it can happen. If you think it might be a problem for your loved one, talk with the nursing director or administrator. If you see any type of abuse, report it to the community's leadership and to your local adult protective services agency.

It’s best to keep valuable property, such as jewelry, at home with you. Your loved one might misplace it, or another resident of the community might take it. You also might want to label personal items like dentures, eyeglasses, and hearing aids.

If the Doctor Isn’t Available Often

Doctors don't generally spend a lot of time in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. This can be a surprise if you’re used to daily rounds in a hospital. How often the doctor will see your loved one in the nursing home will depend on their medical condition and needs.

In assisted living facilities, some medical practices assign nurse practitioners or physician assistants.

In either case, the best way to contact your loved one’s doctor may be by phone.

WebMD Medical Reference in Collaboration with the Cecil G. Sheps Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 10, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

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Alzheimer’s Association. (n.d.). Living with Alzheimer’s for caregivers: Tips for middle-stage caregivers. Alzheimer’s Association.

Carroll, M. (2017). Assisted living versus nursing home care. Caring.com.

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Hyde, J., Perez, R., & Forester, B. (2007). Dementia and assisted living. The Gerontologist, 47(1), 51-67.

Jacobs, B.J. (2016). When it’s time for a nursing home. AARP.

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Zimmerman, S., Gruber-Baldini, A.L., Sloane, P., Eckert, J.K., Hebel, J.R., Morgan, L.A., Stearns, S.C., Wildfire, J., Magaziner, J., Hyg, M.S., Chen, C., & Konrad, T.R. (2003). Assisted Living and Nursing Homes: Apples and Oranges? The Gerontologist, 43(11), 107-117.

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