Should we move our loved one with dementia into a nursing home? 6 things to consider when making this tough decision
400,000 Australians are living with dementia. A million or more family members and friends support them. Most of the people with dementia live in the community.
It is difficult to move a loved one into a nursing home. I had 20 years of experience in dementia and aged care, but it was difficult to move for my own loved one. When the person is in the hospital, the decision has to be made quickly. Sometimes the decision is made over a long period of time.
There are some important things to consider when choosing the best option for you and your loved one I have outlined six.
1. Your loved ones’ views around going into care
We don't want our loved one to do something against their will. It is not normal for someone to want to go into a nursing home. It may take a long time before your loved one accepts that they might need more care and that a nursing home is the right place to get that care.
People with dementia don't behave the same.
2. Your loved one’s current quality of life
If your loved one has all their needs met at home, you may want to support them to stay there.
The image is from micheile.com/unsplash.
If you think your loved one has a good quality of life, and that their quality may decrease when they go into a nursing home, this could be a sign you should keep trying to support them to live at home.
If their quality of life is poor, particularly if they don't have enough day-to-day physical care, health care or emotional support, then moving into a nursing home might help.
Take a few moments to figure out how your loved one is doing.
You can make a list of the things they need to lead a good life and see if they are being met.
3. Risks if your loved one stays at home
People go into nursing homes because they think they are no longer safe at home.
It is possible to modify the home and use technology to reduce the risks of them being at home.
Sometimes older people lose their lives. People with dementia are more likely to survive.
4. Capacity of your loved one’s family and friends to keep supporting them
The availability and capacity of family caregivers is the most important part of supporting someone with dementia. Because of their other responsibilities, caregivers can't support their loved one as much as they would like.
Being a carer is physically and emotionally demanding and can take its toll over time. Carers should seek help and support from other family and friends, learn more about dementia, use services including respite care and Dementia Australia.
It can be difficult for a person to support their loved one to stay at home. Residential care is one way of getting help for someone who needs it, if they are caring as much as their time, energy and physical and mental wellbeing will allow.
5. Alternatives to nursing home care
Older people can benefit from community care services, which are government-subsidised. Depending on need, you can get up to 14 hours of care a week. It is possible to pay for community care privately.
Some families choose to live with a person with dementia, but it is not an option for everyone.
The CC BY-ND is "jixiao huang/unsplash."
An aged care finder can help you find suitable home care services.
Some families choose to have a person with dementia move in with them. If they are able to live together comfortably, this may be an option.
6. Availability of quality nursing home care
If the home will provide suitable care, it will be easier to place a loved one in a nursing home. A nursing home that is close to the family will have a suitable room, sufficient staff with training in supporting people with dementia, a pleasant environment, and quality clinical care.
It takes time to visit and pick a suitable nursing home, check it is accredited, and understand how much it will cost. You may have to wait for a bed in a good home. If you want to try out the nursing home, you can have your loved one stay for two weeks.
You will still be looking after your loved one when they enter nursing home care. You want to make sure you can continue to support your loved one emotionally and practically with the nursing home.
What do residents do all day? We were able to find out their time use.
There is usually no right or wrong decision. There could be a family conflict over what the right decision is.
If you want to talk to a counsellor at Dementia Australia, you can either be a family or an individual.