Alzheimer’s Disease spares no one, not even the best and brightest and it affects both men and women as early as in their 60′s. Without some sort of care, life would be overwhelming for the family of the one suffering from this disease. Fortunately, the health care provider industry has begun training some of its caregivers to care for those with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia and to provide a support system for family members.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia?
Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of dementia that is not curable. It is estimated that over 25 million people worldwide have this degenerative disease. “There are over 5 million sufferers in the U.S. today and that number is expected to triple by 2050,” says John E. Kasarda, Administrator at Little Brook Nursing Home. The disease progresses to the point that the sufferers forget their memories and names, including of those whom they love.
If the Alzheimer’s sufferer is living on their own, they may be prone to accidents, not taking their medications, and even wandering away. Help for Alzheimer’s sufferers can lessen the family’s worries about their loved one. The help they get early on in the disease may include initiating mind games like chess, exercising and dancing, and preparing balanced meals.
Where to Get Help for Alzheimer’s Care
Some home care agencies providing home care services may have dementia sensitive and trained home care agency aides to give the assistance needed by families. Because agency home care giving is done in shifts, it doesn’t take a toll on the home care agency aides, but it still may affect the physical and emotional health of a family member who continually cares for the sufferer. There are many home care agencies which you can contact; but, they should (1) be fully licensed to operate, (2) be bonded (i.e., insured), and (3) have staff that is sensitive to sufferers and trained in Alzheimer’s care. If you need Alzheimer’s help, you should inform the home care agency so that they match their home care agency aide with the needs of your loved one and the family caregiver too! Beware, because not all home care agencies are certified to assist people with Alzheimer’s. And don’t forget to consider nursing homes as a resource for help, information, and comprehensive dementia care (see the next two sections).
You can also contact Alzheimer’s Association Greater New Jersey in Denville at www.alz.org/nj/index.asp or 973-586-4300. Alzheimer’s Association has materials on dementia, sponsors educational seminars and may answer questions you have.
The Cost of Care for Alzheimer’s Sufferers
If your health insurance broker offers it, get long-term care coverage. If this is not feasible, you may have to pay $20/hour plus for a home care agency aide. For just 4 hours daily, that will add up to $80 a day, $2,400 per month, or almost $30,000 a year. “For even more daily help, costs may approach and even exceed the cost of high quality nursing home care,” says Mr. Kasarda, “because at these home care agency rates that’s $240,000 annually for 24/7 care!” If your loved one has private health insurance, this insurance may help lower expenses. “If home care is what your doctor orders and one is classified as medically and financially needy, then Medicaid may pay part of the cost for care,” says Mr. Kasarda. For more information contact your local government health agencies about benefits for seniors or call Mr. Kasarda at 908-832-2220, x221.
Why Receive Care for Alzheimer’s in a Nursing Home?
An Alzheimer’s sufferer who enters a nursing home may pay a bit more for care because the fee includes serving Alzheimer’s appropriate meals, memory-helping activities, safe-ambulating facilities, comfort-controlled lodging and, most importantly, sensitive and comprehensive dementia nursing care. If you are considering placing your loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s in a nursing home, ask the following basic questions or print out a detailed checklist at
1. Staff: Is the staff trained in and sensitive to providing care to Alzheimer’s sufferers?
2. Care: Is there a dementia-trained doctor on call 24/7?
3. Food: Does the food look appetizing? Would you eat the meal? Can Alzheimer’s residents swallow it?
4. Activities: Are daily activities mentally stimulating and geared to help residents recall memories?
5. Facility: Is the nursing home a single story building and easy to traverse for mobile Alzheimer’s residents?
6. Location: Is the nursing home peaceful and far from the noise, commotion and pollution of busy roadways?
Home care agencies serve the needs of Alzheimer’s sufferers to a limit. BUT, when an Alzheimer’s sufferer’s needs increase and the daily fees start rapidly escalating be sure to get the best, comprehensive dementia care for the cost, and get it sooner than later. “A senior’s golden years should be about living in peace, happiness, dignity, comfort, safety and good health. Your loved one deserves excellent and comprehensive dementia nursing care!” says Mr. Kasarda.
Editor: Dr. JP Hampilos, Senior Care Focus
Adapted from Vikram Kumar’s article “When You Need Alzheimer’s Help and Senior Health Care” with excerpts from an interview with John E. Kasarda, Administrator at Little Brook Nursing Home
Senior Care Focus, Issue No. 13, Spring 2014