Elderly Parents and Dementia: How to Make Sure They Get the Best Care Possible

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Dementia can be a heartbreaking disease, especially when it strikes a parent. But you don’t have to give up hope as soon as mom or dad gets the diagnosis. There are many ways that they can continue to live functional, independent lives, and you can explore different avenues of care until you find the one that suits their needs. Here are just a few ideas.

Get Qualified as a Caregiver 
Consumer directed services (CDS) is a Medicaid program that allows participants to hire and fire their own caregivers. Instead of having a nurse or health aide assigned to them, they can recruit friends, family and neighbors to qualify as caregivers. If your parent is still in the early stages of dementia, this can be a way for them to retain control of their life in addition to qualifying you for an official, federally-recognized caregiver role. However, this only works if you are in a position to give full-time care yourself, so be sure to take into account your own schedule when deciding on this or another route.

Hire Outside Help
If you’re unable or unwilling to enroll in CDS, your next step might be seeking in home health care services. A trained and licensed professional can help your parent with things like bathing, dressing, cooking, and getting to their appointments on time. Since the aide comes to their residence and not the other way around, your parent can still enjoy a measure of independence by living in their own home while getting the assistance that they need. Feel free to ask the service to let you and your loved one meet with the caregiver that would be working with you before hiring them so that you can be sure that their personality coincides well with that of your loved one.

Bring Them Home 
If your parent’s dementia has progressed to the point where living independently isn’t an option anymore, you might consider taking them into your own home. Just make sure that you’ve prepared your property for the addition of a senior citizen with cognitive issues. No lights or locks should be too complicated for them to handle, and there should be plenty of rails, grab bars and nonskid floor mats to help them navigate around the house. You can still hire a professional in home health care service if you have children or other responsibilities that could impede your ability to give them full-time attention.

Consider an Assisted Living Facility 
There’s no shame in putting your parent in an assisted living facility or continuing care retirement community (CCRC) if no other courses of action are working out. There are even “memory care units” in some nursing homes and senior villages that are devoted to residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s. These units have staffers who are trained to handle the unique needs of patients with cognitive impairments. These villages also give their patients a sense of community as they are surrounded by people sharing their struggle, and allow them to share in activities designed to accommodate their specific needs.

These are just a few ways to make sure that your parents get help after a dementia diagnosis. You might be facing a tough road ahead, but you can make things a little easier on yourself by doing your homework and choosing high-quality care options.