Living at home with dementia; what are the options?
One of the main benefits of being cared for at home is being in familiar surroundings. This can give great comfort on those days when the person feels anxious or tearful – both of which are common emotions experienced by those with dementia. It could, therefore, be argued that aiming to live at home with dementia for as long as possible will give a ‘constant’ amongst the changes that will inevitably occur as the person’s memory lapses in and out, giving good days and bad days.
As dementia progresses, those around the person may benefit from – or require – a little more support. Sometimes, this can happen urgently. Navigating through the care options can be complex, especially when done under pressure and often in a haze of stress and confusion. Relatives may immediately think a nursing home is their only option. However, increased care at home can still be a viable alternative. Knowing your options in advance can be helpful. We explore two options further below:-
Pop-in safety & support checks at home
One of the first layers of support can be ‘pop-in’ or ‘safety’ visits. These involve a paid care worker visiting the property for short periods (around 30 minutes) up to 4 times per day to support with tasks such as helping to wash and dress, prepare food, or assist with medication. This level of input can work well in mild to moderate cases of dementia, particularly if there are no real concerns for the person’s safety. These visits can continue for years, and many domiciliary care agencies will provide this service.
This is often done in the manner the person so wishes, which we call ‘person-centred care’. There is no rushing about or strict regimes, just the giving of care and support that is tailored to the individual in the way they wish for it to be delivered.
When pop-in visits aren't enough
However, some organisations, like Aster Care, offer up to 24-hour care in blocks of hours that can give greater flexibility and complement existing care given by families. We can provide care for the entire day whilst a relative is at work or overnight to give the family carer a well-earned rest. This service does not always have to be booked seven days a week but can be used as a ‘respite’ session where pre-booked.
Other helpful points
Where care is delivered in longer periods (4-6 hour shifts), it gives the cared-for person greater continuity and helps them recognise the same people coming into their home. For example, a 24-hour care package is generally divided into 6-12 hour shifts and takes between 8-12 staff only to cover this period. Working in small teams enables meaningful relationships to build, which is highly beneficial to everyone concerned.