Dementia can affect a person’s ability to live safely at home, but everyone’s dementia is different. Routine and familiarity can provide much-needed reassurance for someone living with this diagnosis, and this can be offered by a care home that specialises in person-centred dementia care. So, when is it the right time for someone with dementia to go into a care home? There is no hard and fast rule, as not everyone’s situation is the same. But in this article, we will outline the typical care needs of a person with dementia; their options for care, and how to go about making this very important decision.
Signs of dementia and getting a dementia diagnosis
The signs of dementia can build up gradually over time. They may be difficult to spot at first: things like forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating can happen to us all. But if dementia is a possibility, a dementia diagnosis can unlock access to support. It can also give the person with dementia and their family a better understanding of what’s going on.
Common early signs of dementia include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Getting confused when doing day-to-day tasks such as shopping
- Finding it hard to follow a conversation or think of the right word
- Confusion about time and place
- Changes in mood
For a long time, these signs of dementia may be mild, and they might not stop someone from living their everyday life. If the symptoms start to get worse, extra care may be needed.
What are the care needs of someone with dementia?
Dementia is progressive, so if a person has dementia, they’re likely to need more support as time goes on. It’s important to consider whether the care they are currently receiving will still meet their needs in the future. The typical care needs of a person with dementia are likely to include:
- Daily living. Everyday tasks like shopping, cooking and going to appointments can become more challenging for someone with dementia.
- Help with eating and drinking. Getting enough nutritious food and drinking enough to stay hydrated are important for everyone, but may become more difficult as dementia progresses.
- Mobility. As we age, we all have greater mobility needs. People with dementia may need support getting around - both out and about, and in the home.
- Personal care. This includes tasks like going to the toilet and bathing. Some people with dementia may suffer from incontinence, or may forget where the toilet is. They may feel unsafe in the bath or shower.
- Staying safe. In the later stages of dementia, it can be important to have someone available at all times for safety. People with dementia may be more vulnerable to scammers, or they may get lost or confused when they go out. Eventually they may need 24-hour care to keep them safe.
Things to consider when deciding on the best type of care
Everyone is different, and there isn’t a single type of care that is best for people with dementia. It depends on the person as an individual, and their circumstances. But here are some things to consider.
- What does the person with dementia want? Would they like to move, or are they keen to stay where they are?
- Are they currently at risk, and what can be done to mitigate this? For example, is it possible that they could forget to turn off the gas, or leave the door open? Can checks be put in place to ensure that they are safe?
- What are their daily needs, and where is the best place for these to be met? For example, can a family member or home carer attend to their personal care?
- Is there anything they aren’t currently getting at home? For example, they might benefit from the company that can be found in a care home, or the stimulation of daily activities.
Benefits of moving to a care home
A residential care home can have many benefits for a person with dementia.
- It’s a safe environment, offering peace of mind. There’s no need to worry about a person with dementia getting lost or hurting themselves.
- They’ll have access to 24-hour specialist care, whenever they need it.
- Social events and activities can be stimulating, interesting, and give life more meaning.
- People can bring familiar things with them. A move is a big step, but residents can make themselves at home with the possessions that mean the most to them.
- A care home with a person-centred approach will allow the person with dementia to retain their individuality, dignity, and sense of self-worth through an emphasis on compassion and wellbeing.
Alternatives to a residential care home
Moving someone with dementia is a big decision. If you feel it would be too disruptive or upsetting, there are alternatives:
- Home care. This is when a professional carer visits regularly to perform practical care tasks as needed.
- Care by relatives or friends. When a person has dementia, it’s best if they don’t live alone. Caring for a loved one can be the right choice for many families.
- Occasional respite care in a care home. If you’re not sure a permanent move is the best option, respite care could be an ideal compromise.
Making the decision
Deciding whether, and when, a person with dementia should go into a care home, can be really difficult. One important thing to consider is who makes the final decision.
We should all have control over where we live. So, if a person has dementia, but they still have the capacity to make decisions, the final choice should lie with them. However, as dementia progresses, another person, who has the legal right to do so may need to make decisions on their behalf. This can be formalised through lasting power of attorney or deputyship. The person appointed to the role of attorney or deputy is entrusted to make decisions in their best interests.
If there isn’t anyone in this role, and the person with dementia is no longer capable of making decisions for themselves, then the decision should be made by those close to them, in conjunction with health and social care professionals.
Do dementia patients pay for care?
The cost of care is a big worry for many people and can often be a factor when someone with dementia goes into care. But financial help may be available.
In some circumstances, help with the cost of care may be available from the local council, or from the NHS.
Find out more about paying for care, and the financial assistance you may be eligible for.
How B&M can help
Here at B&M, we offer specialist dementia care, helping every resident to get the best out of life after a dementia diagnosis. We’re passionate about person-centred care and we’ll always treat each person as the individual that they are. We will get to know residents and their interests, and support them in a stimulating environment designed to meet their needs. We aim to make every moment count for people living with dementia, always advocating for best practice.