Caring for People with Dementia at Home

When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, families often face difficult decisions about their care. One important consideration is whether the person can be cared for at home. 

In-home care provides a range of services that enable individuals with dementia to remain in the familiar surroundings of their own homes. It also offers valuable support to caregivers who strive to provide the best care possible.

We’ll explore the types of in-home services available, how to find and choose providers, and the costs associated with home care.

Types of In-Home Services

In-home care encompasses various services, catering to different needs and requirements. Some services focus on non-medical assistance, while others involve medical care provided by licensed healthcare professionals. Here are the common types of in-home services:

  1. Companion Services: These services offer supervision, engaging recreational activities, or simply being there for companionship.
  2. Personal Care Services: These services assist with daily activities like bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, and exercising.
  3. Homemaker Services: Homemaker services are designed to help with housekeeping, shopping, and meal preparation.
  4. Skilled Care: Skilled care involves medical assistance such as wound care, injections, physical therapy, and other medical needs. These services are typically provided by licensed healthcare professionals, usually coordinated through a home health care agency after a physician’s recommendation.

Finding In-Home Services

Finding the right in-home care services is crucial for ensuring the well-being of the person with dementia. 

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Here are some resources to aid your search:

  1. Talk to the Doctor: Your loved one’s primary physician is an excellent starting point. They can recommend home health providers experienced in caring for individuals with dementia.
  2. Use Medicare’s Online Tool: Medicare’s Home Health Compare tool allows you to find and compare Medicare-certified home health agencies in your area.
  3. Utilize Community Resource Finder: The online Community Resource Finder can help you locate home care services in your vicinity.
  4. Contact Alzheimer’s Association® Chapter: Reach out to your local Alzheimer’s Association chapter for referrals and valuable information.
  5. Seek Recommendations: Don’t hesitate to ask friends, family, and neighbors about their experiences with in-home care services. First-hand opinions can be valuable.

Choosing Providers

When selecting a home care provider, it’s essential to consider certain factors to ensure the best possible care:

  1. List Care Needs: Create a list of the specific care needs and expectations you have for the provider.
  2. Make Inquiries: When screening home care providers, inquire about the kind of assistance they offer and check if it aligns with your loved one’s needs.
  3. Conduct Interviews: Meet with prospective home care agencies or providers in your home. Prepare questions in advance and involve a third person to discuss impressions afterward.
  4. Check References: Inquire whether the agency conducts criminal background checks and talk to others who have worked with the provider.
  5. Share Information: Provide the care provider with relevant information about the person with dementia, including past accomplishments and fond memories. This helps build a stronger bond.

Questions to Ask Potential Providers

  • Are you trained in first aid and CPR?
  • Do you have experience working with someone with dementia?
  • Are you trained in dementia care?
  • Are you with an agency? (If important to you)
  • Are you bonded (protects clients from potential losses caused by the employee)?
  • Can you provide references?
  • Are you available at the required times?
  • Can you provide backup support if you’re unable to work?
  • Can you manage our specific health and behavioral care needs?
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The costs of in-home care services can vary based on factors such as the type of services provided and your location. Medicare covers certain in-home health care services if the individual meets eligibility criteria and requires the services of a skilled professional. However, it’s essential to understand the details of eligibility and coverage.

For seniors with limited resources, some states offer programs that allow payment to a chosen person, including family members, for in-home services. These programs, known as “participant-directed services” or “cash and counseling,” offer an alternative to traditional home health care agency services.

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