Many of the calls I get are from the adult child of a parent with dementia. It’s all too common these days. In some of these cases the parent’s dementia is mild, but they are no longer safe to be home alone.
Two of the major concerns for a senior living alone with dementia are medication management and safety.
When an elderly person has very limited, or no short term memory, the risk of them over medicating or under medicating themselves is very real. And there can be serious consequences of not taking medications correctly.
A senior can become dizzy and fall. They might get too sleepy or not be able to sleep. And if a parent with dementia doesn’t sleep at night this can lead to more trouble.
Another problem with not taking medications correctly can be bowel irregularity. And toileting problems can result in discomfort or toileting accidents. And we’ve seen instances where taking medications incorrectly has caused periods of delusions and/or hallucinations.
Other Concerns For a Parent With Dementia
The safety of any elderly person living alone in their home is always a worry, even if their mind is alert. But when you add dementia to the picture, safety becomes a larger concern.
The reality is that for a parent with dementia, anything you can imagine happening can actually happen. This could be wandering outside and becoming disoriented and lost, or leaving the stove or other hot surface on resulting in a fire.
And the most common reasons any senior ends up in the emergency room become magnified when you have a parent with dementia. These common reasons are falls, dehydration, being under nourished, and urinary tract infections, often due to improper hygiene.
As an eldercare consultant and a child of a parent with Alzheimer’s, I recognize how difficult these situation can be.
How To Best Provide Care For A Parent With Dementia
So what are we to do?
Is moving a parent to assisted living or bringing in some home care better for an elderly person with dementia? Or is doing nothing actually acceptable? These are very difficult questions to answer.
First of all, doing nothing is never acceptable. If you are legally responsible for your parent with dementia or Alzheimer’s, not helping could result in a visit by Adult Protective Services or the police.
The second two options- home care or assisted living – may both be appropriate. But this will depend upon many factors and each family’s personal situation.
One of the biggest hurdles of home care is the cost. Home care can be expensive, especially if your loved one has dementia. Not knowing what time of day, or in what circumstance your loved one’s safety may be compromised, could require that a caregiver be in the home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And round the clock care in San Diego County can be $400-$500 a day.
However, if it’s possible, finding a good in home care service with a dementia qualified caregiver may be just the answer.
The second option, moving your loved one with dementia to assisted living, also has hurdles. It’s not that there aren’t enough “memory care” or “memory support” communities in San Diego County, because there are plenty. It’s finding the community or home that is most appropriate for your unique situation.
Important Care Criteria For A Parent With Dementia
Your biggest challenge could be in determining which setting is most appropriate and safest for your loved one with memory loss. Some of the important criteria are: location, size, cost, level and type of care provided, activities, transportation, medical personnel on staff, caregiver to resident ratio etc.
If you are in this situation and would like to talk about your loved one and what they need, we’re happy to help.
Once we meet your loved one, and/or have a complete understanding of who they are, what their care needs are and a description of their circumstances, we can narrow down your options considerably.