The incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease is on the rise. In major part this is due to the fact that we are living longer.
The National Alzheimer’s Association reports one in eight Americans will develop Alzheimer’s Disease. It is currently the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. There is no cure for this devastating disease.
The statistics for Virginia are startling. About 130,000 people in Virginia had Alzheimer’s Disease in 2010. However, only a little over half of these people are in nursing homes. The remainder either live alone or are cared for by family members.
How do caregivers manage? I currently serve on the National Alzheimer’s Association Dementia Forum, as a professional support for family caregivers. We discuss the problems they have trying to cope with care of loved ones. There are many, but one of the things that concern them the most is finding resources to help, so I thought I would outline a few of them.
In Home Care: Services are available through nursing agencies or by hiring private help. The problems families often complain about, however, when hiring private individuals, is that it is almost impossible to find a replacement quickly when the caregiver is ill or resigns.
Agencies do provide replacements most of the time, but it takes time for caregivers to develop a relationship with the person who has dementia, so this is sometimes a problem as well.
Day Care: Here in the Fairfax area there are several:
- Adult Day Services Center, Alexandria
- Adult Day Health Care, Fairfax County (five centers)
- Walter Reed Adult Day Health Care Center, Arlington
- Alzheimer's Family Day Center, Fairfax
- Assisted Living: This may be appropriate for a time for the individual who does not wander and is still able to manage most of their care with some assistance. These are not secure environments.
- Assisted Living Memory Care units: These are appropriate for individuals who need assistance, but don’t require a higher level of skilled care. These are usually secure units.
- Residential Homes: Smaller residential facilities run like actual homes. The residents become extended family members and participate in homelike activities while receiving dementia care. These are usually secure.
Skilled Care in a Nursing Home: The residents who reside in nursing homes usually need a higher level of care because of medical problems. Most nursing homes provide dementia units in their facility.
In 1990 Steve Gurney, a Virginia resident, founded the Guide to Retirement Living SourceBook, now a national resource which includes information for assisted living options.
Stephanie Zeman MSN, RN
Kisses for Elizabeth