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Dementia Care Home or Live-in care?

When someone you love is no longer able to take care of themselves or live at home in safety, then you may be thinking about alternatives. 

Considering them can be a difficult thing and very confusing. One thing is certain, you will need to decide before too long about how to protect your loved one’s safety, health, and wellbeing.

Ultimately this boils down to two solutions, namely, to keep your loved one living at home with incoming care, or to use a dementia care home with all the facilities that they offer.

There are pros and cons for both solutions, and you should try to keep an open mind, remembering that what suits one person may not work for you and your loved one.

The most important thing is that whichever solution you choose, your loved one is safe and cared for in the best possible way.

When to think about these options?

Caring for a person who has dementia is a stressful thing if for no other reason than it is full time. The carer often does not have any time left for themselves. Certainly, this is true as the disease progresses.

The time to consider your options is before you reach the stage of full-time care. When your loved one needs care around the clock, that time has definitely arrived.

When your own health starts to suffer, it is time. When your life as you know it has changed to the point that you simply do not have a life outside caring for your loved one, then the time has definitely come.

Pros of live-in care

Familiar environment

Your loved one will be among their favourite objects. Simple things like sitting in a favourite chair at a special window where everything they need is at hand will go a long way to make them feel safe.

Their own space

When in their own home your loved one always has their favourite place to retreat to when they want peace and quiet. While socialising is a good thing, enjoying their own company is also good and having their own space is important.

Routine and regularity

With dementia routine is important. Without routine there may be confusion and distress and this will mean a less than happy person. Sticking to a regular pattern and keeping daily life routine plays a very strong part in people with dementia.

Staying in the area

Friends and family may find it difficult to adapt to visiting someone in a care home and visits may become scarce. At home they may feel more relaxed and therefore more likely to visit. Additionally, your loved one will have friends close by, even though there may only be short visits.

Personal attention

Live-in care provides one-on-one care for your loved one. They never need to share the carer with other people. Your live-in carer will develop a relationship with your loved one and get to know all their quirks, likes and dislikes. They will learn what works well and what simply does not work.

Pets

Any pets your loved one has can stay with them. It has been proven that furry friends can provide a certain amount of comfort in even advanced dementia patients. In the home, the household pet gets to stay with his owner. Very few care homes allow pets to stay with their owners. 

Pros of dementia care homes

Companionship and stimulation

In a dementia care home, your loved one will always have company. This can help with any loneliness and social isolation which may take place at home when few people come to visit. Even in advanced dementia, company has been proven to be beneficial.

Activities

Dementia care homes often have talks, exercise classes and other entertainment to keep people occupied and active. Your loved one will be able to join in with supervised activities every day if they so choose.

Peace of mind

You can have peace of mind knowing that your loved one will not wander off during the night. They will not be able to open doors and go outside unattended. 

There will be people around the clock who will have the best interests of your loved one at heart and safety will be the number one issue.

No forgetting the household bills anymore

Once your loved one is settled into a dementia care home, you may opt to either sell or rent the family home. Either way, there will be no more monthly bills and maintenance issues. No bills will be stuffed away to be paid later and maintenance on the house will not be forgotten. 

And now for the cons..

The cons of live-in care 

It’s about the money

Live-in care is not cheap. You can expect to pay more in the London area of the UK, but costs will still be about or above £850 per week depending on the level of care your loved one needs.

You’ll still get the bills

Garden maintenance, house repairs and household bills will need to be paid. Any cars which are used will need to be kept in good condition, with tax and MOT in place every year. You will be paying for the carer’s meals as well as for your loved one.

Employer responsibilities

You will have some legal and financial responsibilities towards the live-in carer, even if you work through an agency. 

The carer legally needs time off and cover needs to be arranged, either by yourself or an agency. If the carer needs to drive your family car, they need to be insured. 

A certain amount of money must be left in trust with the carer for day-to-day purchases. Someone needs to do the weekly shopping.

Personality clash

With a one-on-one situation, there may be a clash of personalities between your loved one and the carer, or yourself and the carer, which you should not get in a care home where there is more than one carer working. 

Cons of a dementia care home

Lack of privacy

To your loved one, who was used to the quiet and peace of their own surroundings there may be simply too much hustle and bustle going on around them. This may take a while to adjust to.

Changing staff

Just when your loved one is developing a good relationship with a staff member, they may leave. It may be that there is a high turnover of staff which leaves your loved one confused about the strange people around them every day.

Disorientation

While every care is taken to ensure your loved one settles in well, moving can be distressing for anyone with dementia. Many people find it extremely difficult to adapt to new things. They may feel that their independence is being challenged and react negatively.

A set routine – someone else’s

After a lifetime of doing things their own way, your loved one may be reluctant, hesitant, or even rebellious at doing things that other people want. With dementia care at home, you can take things at your own pace. However, working to someone else’s routine may not be that appealing.

Final thoughts

Whichever solution you feel is right for you, there is one important thing to remember. Do not feel guilty at your choice. 

You are not abandoning your loved one, what you are doing is ensuring that they are safely cared for in the best place. This may be either a dementia care home or in the family home. 

You should weigh up all the pros and cons and make your decision based on all the facts in front of you. 

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