Should I consider memory care community placement for my spouse with dementia?

1 answer | Last updated: Mar 28, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Caring for hubby at home with private caregivers 24/7 for the last 6 years. Some in my support group think I should place him (mostly those who have placed their loved ones). Whenever I start thinking about it seriously I hear one of those stories where a resident got beat up by another resident, or neglected by or mistreated by a caregiver, or fell, or whatever--things that do NOT happen here at home. He's safe, content, and pain free and appears to be happy most of the time. I sleep at night & have the freedom to do whatever I like. Of course it's very expensive and I can't keep it up forever but so far we are okay. My friends think I'd be less stressed if he were placed; I think I'd be MORE stressed. Most seem to have placed their spouse when they simply couldn't do the work anymore but they were by themselves or with part-time help only. They also all say that they wish they had done it sooner. I've visited several places and they all admit that he wouldn't get 24-hour one-on-one attention. I also think my life would be far more disrupted because I'd have to oversee his care in a different location. But I want to do the right thing for both of us, and I don't want to endanger my own health. I would love to hear from anybody who has had to make this decision, either way, and what your reasoning was.

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

There is no right way or wrong way to care for someone with dementia. It sounds to me as if your husband's care, with helpers and with friends has become a way of life that suits you. What you might want help with is learning to trust yourself. Not trusting is what often leads to stress. Whether you do this through counseling, prayer, meditation, or reading, making friends with yourself will help you make the decision. Right now it seems excellent that you are reaching out to explore what others are discovering as they walk the difficult path of caring for a loved one alone or with professional help. Think of yourself as part of a circle, or tribe, or association of others who are learning how to care in the 21st century where so much is offered. But you have to find your way.