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Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing Homes and Dementia Care

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Updated May 31, 2012

Question: Our mother has Alzheimer’s disease, but we’ve committed to caring for her in our own home. Why should we take any time to look at the facilities in our community?

Answer: I would recommend that you find out a little information about what’s available for the “just in case” scenarios. I’ve spoken with several families over the years that, because of an unanticipated crisis, ended up looking for nursing home placement even though that was not at all in their plans.

If your goal is to avoid nursing home placement, you may want to research some in-home support options, but also consider simply identifying your options if your loved one would ever need a facility. Remember that finding out a little information about some facilities will be much easier if you’re able to choose the time to do it instead of rushing a decision of where to admit someone who’s at the hospital and needing to be transferred out in an hour. If you never need to use that information, perhaps it will still bring you a little peace of mind.

Question: I’m not familiar with any of the nursing homes in my community. How do I know which facilities are good?

Answer: Consider these suggestions on researching and choosing a nursing home. It’s an important task, so ask around and drop in on a few facilities.

Question: How does home health care work? I’d like to have some help come into my dad’s home so that we can keep him home as long as possible. He has dementia and gets confused, but I know he wants to stay at home.

Answer: Home health care can be very helpful in supporting someone at home. Here's how home health care works and how it can help someone with dementia.

Question: I’m worried about the care that my father will receive in a nursing home. If I move him to a facility and I have a concern about the way they provide care for him, what should I do?

Answer: Knowing how to approach a facility when you’re concerned about the care they’re providing is half the battle. Advocating for your loved one in a respectful and effective way can improve his care and open the door for communication.

Question: I’ve just recently been diagnosed with mild dementia, and because I also require some physical care, I have to move to a nursing home. I’m worried about adjusting to living in a facility, and I’m sad that I have to give up my home and independence. How does one even begin to cope with this change?

Answer: I can’t tell you it’ll be easy, and you’re right to acknowledge the losses and changes this brings in your life. You may be interested to know that researchers have found that two of the biggest factors in positive adjustment and coping with nursing home placement are how involved you become and your attitude toward the move. While many things in a nursing home may be out of your control, those are factors you can determine.

If you find that months after your move, you continue to grieve and feel depressed or anxious, I would suggest you talk to the facility's social worker for support and the possibility of an antidepressant medication.

Question: My sister and I are moving our mother into a nursing home next week. We didn’t want to do this but we just can’t handle her care at home anymore. She is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, and we’re wondering what we can do to help her adjust to this big change.

Answer: Here are some tips on how to help your loved one with dementia adjust to a facility.

Question: The nursing home that my friend recommended to me has a separate area where they can care for people with memory loss. My wife has dementia, but I’m not sure that I want her to be in a place where everyone else is confused. Is there any benefit to one of those facilities?

Answer: There are pros and cons to special care units that offer dementia care. I’ve outlined a few factors for you to consider when deciding whether or not to seek care in a dementia unit.

Question: I found out that nursing homes are pretty expensive. Are there different ways to pay for it? Does insurance cover anything?

Answer: Nursing homes are costly, to be sure. Payment options for long term care include:

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