Respite Care For Families Of Dementia Patients

Our mom has some Alzheimer’s Dementia as well as heart failure.  She repeats herself frequently and needs help getting dressed; dad is wearing out trying to cope with her problems. We worry he’ll end up sick if we don’t get some help for him.  What can we do?

It’s been said by many, that dementia is far worse than even cancer because, not only does it lead to death, it destroys a personality the family has known and creates incredible stress on the caregivers.

Studies confirm that family caregivers are at increased risk for sickness and shortening their own life expectancy.  If your dad is able to share his load, he can remain healthier and better able to cope with your mom’s dementia behaviors, which will help her remain in the home longer.

Although some families have members who can rotate on a regular schedule, most are stretched thin because everyone needs to work (often just to keep their health insurance).  So what options do you have:

1. Hire private sitters. Look on-line or in the paper for individuals or agencies.  Sitters are usually paid by the hour.

2. Friendship Club at WICP. The Westminster Interfaith Caring Place is a ‘day-service’ for clients with dementia, or other conditions making them frail; it provides respite [relief] for caregivers, up to five days a week.  Open from 08:00 till 5:30pm, they provide a lunch, crafts, and nursing supervision.  It’s a non-profit organization which relies on donations plus an hourly charge to each client to cover costs.  It’s located at Brandon Ministry on Veterans Drive in Florence.

Both families & patients gain tremendous benefit:  patients have a social life which makes their care at home easier; having their loved one in a controlled and caring environment allows the caregiver time to not only do other essential things, but also a chance to rest and “recharge their batteries”.  Living with someone who has dementia is incredibly stressful.  WICP phone # is 256-275-3800. [A disclaimer: I’m on their Board of Directors.]

3. Long Term Care [LTC or nursing home] or a Specialized Assisted Living Facility [SCALF]. These are ‘final’ options, which everyone wants to avoid but may ultimately need, despite utilizing the above services, because the behaviors cannot be managed adequately at home.  The majority of most nursing home residents today have dementia.

Note:  Patients with a stage of dementia requiring either WICP or early admission to LTC or SCALF are usually not yet eligible for hospice care.