As parents age, the persistent question on the minds of adult children is, “How long can mom/dad live at home?” As we age, familiar places and things grow in importance to us. Therefore, being able to live in the family home for as long as possible becomes a driving desire. In many ways, it’s easier for the adult children as well. Many grew up in these homes. The thought of having to move their moms and dads out is heartbreaking. So, most stay put. But the clock ticks.
When an individual develops dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, the question of staying at home takes on added significance. As the disease develops, the reasoning abilities, along with physical issues create a level of impairment that make it difficult to impossible for the individual to function on their own.
When this happens, many adult children will reach out to “home help” agencies and schedule a caregiver to come into the home throughout the day or evening. How long this kind of arrangement can work out depends on the pace at which the disease develops. Family caregivers often ask for our input as to how long they should try to keep their loved ones in their familiar home environment before making the transition to a memory care community.
The most important things to look for are situations that impact the safety of your loved one. Home caregivers can help with many things, but leaving an individual with dementia alone, even for a few minutes, can have serious safety repercussions.
Here are some warning signs that the disease is impacting the safety of your loved one and that he or she needs may be better served in a safe, nurturing environment with caregivers who are trained in memory care:
- Leaving stove burners turned on
- Leaving back or front doors open
- Wandering outside and off property
- Leaving a spill on the floor
- Forgetting to turn water off
- Confusion with medications
- Any other situations that leave you saying, “Glad we caught that before…”
Of course, we understand that it isn’t easy to be objective when making decisions on behalf of the person who you have looked up to your entire life. This is a challenging time for family caregivers and their loved ones.
Please know that we are here to help. Consider joining one of our dementia support groups. That is a great way to share your thoughts with other family caregivers and chat with a skilled professional who can answer your questions. You can call the Anthem community in your area for more information.