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Alzheimer’s and Long Term Care for the Elderly

By: | Tags: , , , | Comments: 0 | January 8th, 2015

With a growing elder population across the nation, the concerns of elder care are becoming a precedent for healthcare.  This type of wellness concern can include basic accommodations such as independent living facilities and medical care that is administered within the home environments, but it can also include facilities that provide more comprehensive attention for elder patients who are suffering from chronic illness.  This makes elder care in the nation a diverse set of interventions that are all intended to provide more individualized attention that can meet personal needs.

Long Term Care Facilities

In general, long term care facilities can vary greatly in the amount of attention that residents are able to receive.  A number of institutions will accommodate elderly patients in a variety of health and ageing stages, although other care providers may also specialize with types of treatments.  The most common reason for seeking out assistance through an elder care facility is when the individual can no longer care for themselves adequately, or if family member and loved ones are concerned that harm may arise if the patient is left unattended.

There are many occasions when the patient may decide for themselves that a long term care facility is the ideal option.  This will most often happen when:

  • Patients have regular therapy with which they need assistance
  • Home accidents have given rise to worry
  • Patients are no longer able to manage the upkeep of the home
  • Assistance is required for mobility or travel
  • Chronic conditions are impeding quality of life

Long term care facilities can give patients and their family the peace of mind that treatment and support will be forthcoming in a caring and attentive environment.  Patient placement can vary from single occupancy suites to roommate situations, depending upon the focus of the facility.  Either of these living situations can still give patients access to nursing staff, regular check-ins, and medication protocols.  These can all ensure that elderly patients will be supervised, but can still engage in social activities with other occupants of the center.

Facilities that do accommodate both more and less functional patients will generally divide the population to different floors or wings of the institution.  This also allows nursing staff to become highly familiar with the needs of their regular patients, which can allow for better monitoring of condition.

High assistance segments of the elderly population can receive care that includes:

  • Monitoring of condition progression
  • Assistance with hygiene routines
  • Help with feeding and basic tasks
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Medication rounds
  • Specialized treatments for specific ailments

Long term elder care can also include institutions which allow greater freedom for occupants.  This will still allow for condition monitoring, supervision, and medication protocols, but allows residents to still attend to tasks that they can perform.  For this reason, it can be important for patients and family members to inquire about the full function of the facility and the different care structures that are available.

Many long term care facilities do have familiarity in helping Alzheimer’s patients and individuals who are suffering from mild to severe dementias.  Although these considerations may be a part of regular care routines, a number of elder care institutions are set up to specifically attend to the needs of individuals with cognitive impairments.  It can be vital for treatment that people with diagnosed dementias are monitored differently than elderly patients who simply need support with daily routines.

Independent Living Versus Assisted Living

Independent living facilities are also considered to be a type of long term elder care.  These will generally not have the same concessions for patients with cognitive impairments, since they are designed to have on site healthcare and medical staff, although residents are allowed private accommodations and minimal interference.  Independent living can be ideal for individuals who have good cognitive health but may be suffering from physical impairments.

Assisted living facilities utilize greater monitoring and intervention, and can be better suited to patients who do suffer from dementias.  This type of care option gives the nursing staff greater involvement in occupant affairs and is often more of a private hospital than a purely residential situation.  However, this also ensures that elder care is specifically suited to individual needs.

Home Care and Social Workers

In many cases, family members will use home care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s.  This choice can be well suited to individuals who are in the beginning stages of the disorder, and may require the familiarity of the home environment in order to function.  Home care can be designed for greater involvement with patients who require more supervision, but may also include visits from the home care worker only several days out of the week.

Social workers are often called in to assess the home living situation in order to determine whether this will be an ideal fit.  In many cases, even with home care and social workers, the health care team may recommend that an actual facility will be more appropriate to the patient.  This will often happen if the individual becomes a danger to themselves, or if care requirements are beginning to become constant.

Partial Assistance and Adult Daycare

In the early stages of dementia, partial care through a home medical staff and adult day care situations can offer patients the care and stimulation that they need.  This type of set up will provide transportation for the patients to the adult day care facility, and will engage them in cognitive activities that can stimulate the formation of better neural pathways.  This will often be most suitable for patients with mild dementia, cognitive dysfunction which responds well to medications, or the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s.

General long term care of the elderly will accommodate for physical and cognitive decline in an environment that is conducive the patient’s welfare.  Individuals with advanced stages of Alzheimer’s will require more specialized treatment, as many of the basic routines for welfare are disrupted.  This can mean that care requirements are likely to change as the disease advances, and selecting a facility that can accommodate this eventuality are best suited to patients with progressive dementias.

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