In general, planning for long-term care is like planning for dementias like Alzheimer's disease. While many of the same planning steps apply, certain steps take on added importance. The loss of executive function associated with dementia can create hardships for caregivers in arranging or paying for care. The ability to comprehend finances and care choices is often among the first signs of dementia. To avoid problems in planning, the following steps can be taken:
- Advanced Care Directive -- to make sure care choices reflect preferences
- Medical Power of Attorney -- to make sure decisions can be made for persons no longer able to communicate their wishes
- Power of Attorney -- to make sure financial and estate decisions can be made to pay for care, apply for assistance (i.e. Medicaid, state based programs) or for the ongoing management of an estate.
Once symptoms appear, dementia makes the long-term care planning process more complex. It causes a specific set of challenges that also must be considered when deciding what your next steps will be. Among these are:
- Safety issues specific to people with Alzheimer's
- Working with caregivers that understand the symptoms of dementia and how to respond effectively
- Medical specialists and products that may add to the cost of care, especially in regards to drugs specifically tailored to your loved one's needs
- Adult day services that provide socialization and activities in a safe environment to both provide a break to the caregiver as well as giving the people with Alzheimer's positive stimulus
While people with dementia can stay in the home for some time, for most there will come a time when professional help, or living in a facility, becomes necessary. Today's options for facility care may include assisted-living arrangements that specialize in care for people with dementia. Here are just a few of the possibilities commonly available:
Specialized dementia care facilities, also known as "memory care" assisted living, generally offer supports and protections that go beyond traditional assisted living communities. For example, having specialized staff training, secured exits, and enhanced visual cues to help residents feel more at ease in unfamiliar surroundings can be part of one of these facilities.
Nursing homes include all the services of an assisted living facility with the added service of full-time nursing care, 24-hours a day. Some are designed specifically for people with Alzheimer's.
For more in-depth information on Alzheimer's Disease, check out our partner site -- Alzheimers.gov.