How can we plan ahead for when Dad needs more care?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 24, 2016
Jec912 asked...

My mother(82) cares for my dad (87) who has Alzheimer's. At the present they are doing well. Mom manages the finances, medications, medical appointments, meals, shopping. Her main heath concern is keeping her blood pressure under control, and the stress of caring for Dad. She is on four or five medications for high blood pressure.

My concern is where and when to begin to look for options if something should happen to her. She can't be out of the room for five minutes before Dad is looking for her. My dad would not be happy at my home. I am not in a position to go live with him at this point. He would be very agitated at a care facility, or even with someone living with him, but I don't know what other options would be best.

Should I start now, when they are in generally good health, looking for memory care facilities? It could be years before anything is needed, but one never knows. We live about three hours from them. I make regular visits and phone calls, they have great neighbors that check in and help them, but I feel I should begin finding information, and options, just in case.... What is the next step?

Expert Answers

Helene Bergman, LMSW, is a certified geriatric care manager (C-ASWCM) and owner of Elder Care Alternatives, a professional geriatric care management business in New York City. She consults with nursing homes and daycare programs to develop specialized programs for Alzheimer's patients.

Making an informed decision about long term care for a parent with Alzheimer's requires gathering extensive data information and exploring viable options"¦"¦before a crisis occurs. This means that now, when your parents are in good health, is the opportune moment to begin your research. Your mother's high blood pressure leaves her very vulnerable to the devastating effects of the stress and burden of caregiving. This further affirms your intuition that you should begin planning sooner than later.

Most older adults express wanting to remain at home forever and if the key factors are supportive-convenient location and home environment, adequate finances, medical and social resources and quality care, then remaining at home with Alzheimer's is feasible. However, if your dad is isolated at home and accessing resources becomes difficult, then relocation might be your best option. Perhaps by the time he needs relocation, his dementia might have advanced to the stage where agitation is less.

When you research memory care facilities, it is suggested you make sure that they offer a continuum of care. Otherwise, when your dad's disease progresses, you might be faced with relocating him again. Facilities are mandated to help older adults "age in place" so you need to insure any place you choose adheres to this policy. You would benefit from exploring (and visiting) the CCRC's in your area (Continuuing Care Retirement Communities) to identify options that address the memory impaired with an eye to the future. Should something happen to your mom, closer proximity to you will help you and your dad. Collect and keep applications of places you like and check in with them periodically. And keep in mind that with a progressive disease like Alzheimer's, your dad will be different tomorrow from how he is today.

Community Answers

Jec912 answered...

I have been doing research. Mom mom reminded me last week that as a veteran, there may be veteran homes that he would qualify for. SO I am going to look into that option also. It is very true that I see changes in dad every time I go to visit. So it is important to find out now, before I actually need to make that decision.