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Do I need to go into a care home if I have dementia?

Do I need to go into a care home if I have dementia?
Date published: 15 September 2022 Author: Izzi Parsonage Categories:

We understand that a diagnosis of dementia can be a scary prospect. But from our professional experience, we’d like to reassure you that it doesn’t mean your life is over, there can still be good times and happy memories made with family and friends.

And there are care options available to help you retain as much independence as you wish to for as long as you are able.

What does a dementia diagnosis mean?

Dementia is an umbrella term covering the functioning of the brain.

Just because you have dementia, it doesn’t mean the end. There are more than 100 different forms of dementia and each shows up with different symptoms and affects the brain in different ways depending on which part of the brain is impacted and how.

The good news is that there are an increasing number of drugs available to slow progress and help manage symptoms and side effects. And there are breakthroughs in research all the time.

How can you expect your dementia to progress?

With a condition like dementia, it’s almost impossible to predict how things will progress and how long you will feel confident living independently.

In the early stages you may notice nothing more than absent mindedness, frustrations over misplaced glasses or forgetting names and addresses. It can be difficult to identify and diagnose at this stage as it is entirely normal to experience slight memory lapses in the normal course of ageing.

As cognitive decline becomes more pronounced, symptoms will become more noticeable. You may begin to struggle with concentration and have more obvious issues recalling words when speaking or writing, for example. This can go on for a number of years before progressing to the stage where changes become more obvious.

During the latter stages of dementia, mental deterioration tends to speed up. Many people will experience more severe memory deficiencies, forgetting where they live, current events and even the time. It will become increasingly difficult to go about your daily life without support. Sadly, as time goes on, those with dementia may forget even their close family members and friends, they may struggle with personality changes and anxieties and eventually become unable to speak or to walk.

It may feel difficult to read, but by understanding the stages your dementia is likely to progress through, it can put you in a position of power. You will be able to work alongside your family, friends and caregivers to make appropriate changes to your surroundings to keep you safe and healthy. And you’ll be able to make the right decisions about your care in good time.

What factors should you consider when it comes to care?

There are of course many factors to consider when choosing the right type of care for you or your loved one. Would live-in care or a care home suit your situation best?

There is no right answer when it comes to your choice of care, just the best option for your individual circumstances.

It’s important to think about where you will feel safe, secure and looked after and where you feel you will enjoy the highest quality of life you can. At every stage of the disease.

Dementia care at home

During the early stages of your dementia, you may feel there is no reason you can’t stay at home and retain your independence. Being in familiar surroundings and maintaining the daily routines you’re used to can feel wonderfully comforting as you learn to live with your diagnosis. In fact, with some minor adaptations, ie to ensure you remember to take medications and attend medical appointments, life may be able to continue as normal for a while.

As your dementia progresses though, it’s inevitable that you will begin to need support to carry out some household chores or cover off personal care needs. Whether you choose to move to a residential care home or have a carer or family member come in to support you is a matter of personal choice.

Companionship or social contact can be an important element of the support network you choose to put in place, preventing loneliness and isolation. Keeping abreast of current affairs, having regular conversations, continuing with favourite hobbies or social activities and staying active where possible, can all have a place in helping to slow cognitive decline and keeping you independent for longer.

So it could be only during the latter stages of progression that the choice of whether to stay in your home may become more difficult. As symptoms become more pronounced, it’s important that you take advice from dementia specialists and other healthcare professionals in order to ensure you’re getting the best possible care.

As you begin to require 24-hour care, your loved ones will need to decide whether they are able to meet the level of care you need, or whether it’s time to hand over to professional care providers. Even at this point live-in dementia care can provide a way for you to continue living in the familiar surroundings of your own home if that’s what you feel would be best for you.

Be proactive

It’s the best advice we can give. Be brave, however hard it may seem to have those difficult conversations with family and friends. Talk about how you want your future to look, where you see yourself living and the type of care you would like to receive. Not only will you be in the wonderful position of knowing you’ve taken care of everything while you’re still able to, you’ll be supporting your loved ones with the difficult decisions they may be forced to make in the future.

And consider putting in place a Power of Attorney. Only then can you ensure that those you trust to do the right thing will be in a position to advocate for you. There is no such thing as the right choice, only the right choice for you.

Just be reassured that if you choose to live at home, there are still full-time care options out there for you. Find out more about Promedica’s Dementia care<link to page on site> and Alzheimer’s care services<link to page on site>.

This September, we’re sharing relevant content for #AlzheimersAwarenessMonth in the hope that we can educate people about lives lived with this disease. 


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