More Americans than ever are aged 65 or over, and senior citizens have health care needs that must be met so that they can maintain their quality of life and their dignity. Sometimes, medication or therapy for mental ailments, illness, frailty, or physical disability are needed, and assisted living and retirement care can make a person’s senior years the best they can be. Sometimes, dementia treatment and memory care can be given at a nursing home, or else assisted living is an option for families who do not want to pay for a home, or if the elderly patient has more support at their local community. How can today’s nursing staff members and family members of a senior citizen care for the elderly?
Statistics of the Elderly
Today, there is a sizeable population of the elderly, and they need care, at least, 70% of Americans who turn 65 will need specialized care or general care in their advanced age. On average, the age of retirement is 63, although depending on one’s lifestyle, the need for assisted living care may come sooner or later than that. Often, senior citizens who need assisted living care or nursing home care are those with dementia and other memory loss ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease. Today, some 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and it makes up close to 80% of all dementia diagnoses. Most patients of this affliction are aged 65 or over, but an estimated 200,000 Americans younger than that suffer early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Assisted Living and More
The two main options for elderly citizen care are assisted living and nursing homes, each with distinct advantages and perks. The patient, and his/her family’s income, may affect whether they can afford a nursing home, or simply personal preference. For Alzheimer’s patients, either route is possible.
Assisted living means that the senior citizen lives at his or her original residence, but nursing staff and sometimes qualified family members will visit to assist in any way needed. The caregivers may do errands for the elderly citizen such as grocery shopping or going to the bank, and may help with home chores too such as tending to the lawn and outdoor gardens, cleaning and organizing, doing dishes, or simply provide companionship, all depending on the senior citizen’s physical and mental well being. And for Alzheimer’s patients, assisted living involves extra steps.
Making a home safe and convenient for an Alzheimer’s patient involves both safety and routine being put in place. Tripping hazards such as electrical cords, rugs, and small furniture may be removed, and sharp objects such as knives and scissors may be removed as well, since the patient may harm him or herrelf by accident due to the disease’s effect on motor coordination. A daily routine can be established and items can be always kept in the same location, and all this familiarity and routine can help reduce the effects of memory loss. Mental stimulation such as doing puzzles or similar activities, as well as general company, can also slow down the advance of Alzheimer’s. And if the patient goes outdoors for walks and fresh air, he or she should carry a name tag and contact information in case he or she gets lost or hurt and cannot return home under their own power.
A nursing home offers many of the same amenities as assisted living, but sometimes, an elderly citizen lives too far away from family or professional help to make the travel time convenient, so moving the patient to a home can eliminate constant travel. This can especially be an issue if the patient may be prone to emergency situations such as falling and being unable to get up, or if the patient suffers a bad cut or burn. If the family (and maybe the patient) are willing and able to pay for the home, then it can provide 24-hour professional care as well as constant company of the other residents, all in one place. The home may be closer to the family members’ own residence, making visits much easier. The nursing home should also provide special staff and supplies for Alzheimer’s and other dementia patients, although relatives of a dementia patient should contact a home ahead of time to confirm this before sending their elderly family member there.