Caring for someone with dementia can take a toll on both the dementia caregiver and their family. Many families consider assisted living during this time, but will you recognize the signs that it’s the right time for your loved one?
Read what a psychologist says about recognizing and understanding these signs.
Signs that Your Loved One May Need Assisted Living
More than 15 million Americans devote time and energy to caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, but sometimes the cost of caregiving becomes too high. Caregivers often find themselves unable to bear the burden of providing home health care without suffering from illness themselves.
This is when it may be time to consider whether to move a loved one into assisted living if their health needs become too much to handle at home.
Moving a family member is never an easy decision. There are, however, some telltale signs that caregivers can look for in order to recognize when it’s the right time for assisted living, says Rita Vasquez, M.A., an MFTI Clinician at Quail Lakes Counseling Center in Stockton, California:
Physical, sexual or violent aggression frequently happen in those with dementia, and caregivers or other family members may suffer or begin to feel resentful. “I tell people when they’re getting to that state, it’s time to start considering placement,” says Vasquez.
Caregiver symptoms like increased stress can be just as telling a sign as the dementia behaviors described above.
Escalating Care Needs
Ask yourself: “Are the person’s care needs beyond my physical abilities?” or “Is the health of the person with dementia or my health as a caregiver at risk?” If you’re answering yes to those questions, it might be time to have that tough family conversation.
Consider your senior family member’s health and your own abilities to care for them. Is the person with dementia unsafe in their current home?
“Sundowners syndrome” — very agitated behavior that becomes more pronounced later in the day — is a common characteristic of those with Alzheimer’s. Vasquez says that this can take a heavy toll on caregivers, and when it begins to severely disrupt family routines, this may be a sign that the caregiving burden is too hard to handle.
In later stages of dementia, the risk posed by wandering becomes much greater, notes Vasquez. “They can wander even if you just take the time to go to the bathroom,” she says, and the probability of falls and injuries increases.
Stress May Indicate a Need for Help
An article in the New York Times discussed the psychological costs of caregiving and of making difficult care decisions, which some professionals are likening to the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. Caregivers may experience symptoms like: