Caring for a loved one with dementia is challenging in every way – not only is it physically demanding, it’s also very emotionally draining. It can be common for carers to become exhausted by the constant need to be there for the person with dementia.
Taking small and regular breaks from the role of caring is one solution to carer ‘burnout’, also known as compassion fatigue. However, it’s often easier said than done. Family carers are especially at risk of exhaustion, and sometimes the person with dementia is admitted to a specialist aged care facility because the main family carer can no longer cope.
The surge of dementia cases is a national problem that’s only getting worse. The Dementia Economic Impact Report recently showed dementia was increasing significantly across all cultural groups in New Zealand. It also showed existing services would struggle to cope with the rise in numbers.
Research shows home is better for those with dementia
Now more than ever, it’s important to remember that home help remains a wonderful solution to what is unmistakably a very complex problem for all involved.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine in the US found that “keeping a loved one with dementia at home helps them be happier and live longer”.
A scientific study in Germany comparing the outcomes of people who lived at home with dementia, versus those with the condition in aged care facilities, found that “patients in senior citizens’ homes had a higher relative dying risk of around 53.1%, than those cared for at home”.
US aged care expert Carol Bradley Bursack says the biggest advantage of home care is that it allows people with dementia to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.
“This option is far less disorienting for a dementia patient than a move to an assisted living facility, a memory care unit or a nursing home,” Ms Bradley Bursack says.
“Familiar environments offer a great deal of security and peace of mind for individuals with memory issues.”
I want to go home
In fact, a common issue with dementia patients living in assisted care facilities is that they often tell carers they want to go home. Despite deterioration in the memories of people with dementia, many remain painfully aware that they are no longer in their normal surroundings.
The Alzheimer’s Society in the UK has even addressed this issue by compiling a list of things for professional carers to say to dementia patients who repeatedly ask to go home.
Advice on their website states: “It is not uncommon for a person with dementia in residential care to say they want to go home… (it) can be distressing for everyone. The desire to go home is probably the same desire anyone would have if we found ourselves in a strange and unreasonable place.”
Certainly one of many important goals when caring for someone with dementia is to prevent causing them extra distress. So it makes sense to keep them living at home, in their own familiar and comfortable surroundings, for as long as possible.
Home Care Options are Available
But exactly what are the home care options for a loved one with dementia? There are many, depending on your family’s needs and requirements. Home Instead can provide anything from one or two home visits a week all the way to around-the-clock care.
We provide our CAREGivers with dementia care training, and conduct audits and client feedback surveys to ensure our services are highly valued by our clients and their families. We believe in relationship-based care and our staff offer a wealth of experience in providing dementia care services at home. Home Instead can review your family’s individual needs and offer a solution that works for you all.
At the heart of the matter though, is the best interests of the person at the centre – your loved one with dementia. There’s strong evidence they’ll be happier and healthier for longer, being cared for at home.