dementia patient with a caregiver

The Dementia Journey: Solving Homecare Problems

Part Five – Care at Home Just Isn’t Working

Very likely a time will come when the increasing needs of a dementia patient will exceed your capabilities to provide care in the home. It might be time for another detour along the way. You may well have to consider moving your loved one into an assisted living community or a long-term facility.  But how will you know when you reach this roadblock, this new detour?  Every situation is different.  There is rarely an exact moment in which you will know.  However, there are some common indications that it may be time for assisted living or nursing home care.  

It may be that you are caring for a parent.  Your job, your family, and your own health are suffering.  You just don’t have enough time in the week to handle everything effectively.   Or you may be an aging spouse that is at risk of being injured physically and emotionally.  Your health may be suffering.  

Perhaps your loved one is falling frequently.  Dementia patients are very prone to falling. They can have diminished depth perception and frequently have less strength as the disease progressed.  Decreased mobility at home can be risky for a dementia patient and for their caregiver. For example, a 75-year-old woman can easily hurt herself showering her 180-pound husband.  It is not uncommon for a caregiver to become injured moving a dementia patient.  

Their cognitive impairment and inability to perform activities of daily living can take a toll on caregivers, both physically and emotionally.  Often caregivers sacrifice their own well-being to keep the dementia patient at home.    

Wandering is a very common symptom as dementia progresses.  They might be looking for something from their past that seems like it is happening right now, like going to work on the bus and walking outside looking for the bus.  Unfortunately, a person with dementia often no longer has directionality, or the ability to find their way back and is at great risk of becoming lost or put in a life-threatening situation.  

“Sundowning” is common with dementia. Sundowning often occurs late in the afternoon or early evening. While its exact cause is still unknown sundowning can cause dementia patients to pace, be confused, anxious, and violent. A person with dementia can sometimes display aggression for other reasons also.   Fear and frustration can cause some dementia patients to bite, hit, or kick a caregiver. A caregiver can be badly injured in these instances.  

If your beloved elder is creating an unsafe situation either for them or you by exceeding your physical ability to care for them; displaying physical or violent aggression, or wandering outside; it is time to consider placement. 

It is hard to move our loved ones into a care facility.  Not only do we consider the emotional toll it gives, but financial considerations can also weigh heavily on our minds. If you are facing the roadblock of when to place your loved one with a dementia diagnosis we are here with expert advice. We have real-world firsthand knowledge of the next steps.  We are familiar with how to assess the appropriate level of care for your loved one and which facilities best provide that care. At Van Dyck Law Group our expert Elder Law lawyers along with our compassionate and experienced Life Care Resources Team are here to help guide you and support you on this unexpected detour. 

Linda Mundie, Director of Life Care Resources

Van Dyck Law Firm, 707 State Road, Princeton, NJ 08540

September 2022