All You Need To Know About A Dementia Care Home

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In case you are a dementia caregiver and planning to put your loved ones in a dementia care home, check out the things to be kept in mind before choosing the appropriate home.

Anupama G, 57 years, has been a caregiver to her husband, Suresh Babu with Dementia for over a decade. It became almost next to impossible for helpless Anupama to take care of her husband single-handedly and manage her job simultaneously. While Babu grew more violent, started displaying several behavioural changes along with his waning reasoning skills and could no longer control his bodily functions like urination, Anupama suffered sleepless nights taking care of her husband and attended office in the mornings as she became the only breadwinner for the family.

“I cannot express in words how unimaginably difficult the situation was for me. I could not quit my job as there was no one to support my family financially. Since my husband got diagnosed with dementia, I was the sole earning member. Neither was I able to leave him alone at home as eventually his symptoms worsened and he became unmanageable. I could not peacefully take a sip of water or even sit for a while and rest. It was then when I started looking out for a Bangalore-based dementia care home that looked after my husband during the work hours. It was such a relief when I found one,” says Anupama who has lost her husband just a few months back.

Caregivers often go through extremely tough situations to take care of their loved ones with dementia all alone. This could be due to the lack of additional caregiving support care, managing professional lives at the same time and even due to inadequate mental aid. This is when a dementia care home comes to their rescue. While experts say, both the caregiver and the loved one with Dementia can be immensely benefited from an ideal care home, it is not an easy decision to take. It’s essential for the caregiver to actually understand the concept of a care home and the criteria that they must look for before selecting one for their loved one.

According to Dr Soumya Hegde, geriatric psychiatrist, a care home is essentially a place where someone moves into (or when someone moves their loved one into) when they need help and support for their day to day care. “The concept of moving out of one’s home and being cared for by strangers is very new in India and often associated with stigma. Families are deemed uncaring when the senior is moved into a care home. However, the truth is, families who have to make this very difficult decision are far from being uncaring and possibly live with that guilt for the rest of their lives. On the contrary, care home is a familiar concept in the West and placement in these places is generally covered by insurance policies or the government. This is not the case in India where families have to fund their own care. As such, the criteria for admission to a care home are also different,” Dr Hegde says.

“When a loved one is affected with Dementia, the decision to move them to a care facility is made only when the behaviour challenges make it difficult to continue providing care at home or when there is no family member available to supervise care,” she adds.

As dementia is a progressive disease, a person’s condition worsens with time and he/she needs more care and support. Neha Sinha, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Epoch Elder Care, an assisted living home for seniors with dementia in Gurgaon and Pune believes that choosing between home care and residential care is always a difficult choice but there can be some guidelines that help in the decision making. In case you are a caregiver and looking for a dementia care home for your loved ones, here is a list of vital things you must keep in mind while selecting a care home.

Tips to choose the appropriate care home

Check whether the overall ambience of the care home can offer a homely feeling and comfort to your loved one.

1) See if the staff is trained in dementia care or not.
2) Look out whether the staff seem warm and caring.
3) Always try to take a round and observe staff interactions with other residents.
4) Observe the presence of nursing staff and see if the staff is available round the clock on duty.
5) Check out the aspect of safety of the facility as it houses a lot of residents who may have wandering issues.
6) Find out if the facility is equipped enough to personalise meal and meal timings, in house, since every resident may not stick to specific meal timings.
7) See if the facility conducts structured and planned activities personalised for each resident
8) Check whether the team is equipped to handle disease progression, especially skilled nursing needs
9) Find out if there are there any restrictions on visitor timings

Sinha believes that an appropriate dementia care home will have assisted living facilities such as assistance with ADLs (activities of daily living), meals, housekeeping, emergency response, engagement; staff who are trained and specialise in dementia care, who understand the disease progression well, can handle challenging behaviour and are able to help residents engage in various activities as per their current stages.

Benefits obtained from a dementia care home

“Although it can be a very emotionally overwhelming decision to move your loved one to a care home, there are a lot of long term benefits to this decision which may not be so apparent. More often than not, lack of basic care requirements like following a routine, proper meals and sleep, maintaining personal hygiene and meaningful engagement can result in the elderly becoming agitated resulting in refusal to accept care or becoming completely withdrawn,” says Sinha.

“Caregiver burden is a real issue in any chronic condition and more so in dementia since it is very difficult to accept changes in the personality and behaviour of the loved ones as part of the disease condition. Many caregivers suffer from stress, undiagnosed mental health conditions, give up jobs and even face isolation themselves in these situations. Once these basic needs are taken care of in a care home, family members are not only relieved of caregiver burden but are also able to spend quality time with their loved and can then focus on creating more positive associations,” explains Sinha. Here are a few ways by which a dementia care home can offer support to those with dementia and caregivers.

1) Providing support with daily activities (eating, bathing, activities etc) as most of the times families struggle to fulfil these basic needs at home.
2) Offering holistic care catering to health, cognition, social needs, engagement, nutrition, mobility needs and more.
3) Providing Emergency support.
4) Extending specialised medical care as and when the need arrives
5) Enabling meaningful engagement and activities to prevent isolation

Dementia care homes in India are not enough

The existing number of dementia care homes in India does not match with the number of facilities that are needed. India has an estimated 5.12 million people affected by Dementia, as per Dementia India Report estimates, according to Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI).

“Specialised dementia homes in India are difficult to find and nowhere in proportion to the current needs. One of the main reasons for this is the availability of trained resources and lack of skilling. There are more than enough players in the industry who would be open to launching dementia care homes but can only do so if trained people are available. Another aspect is also the fact that the dementia homes are currently not regularised, hence the absence of a framework to set up protocols, process and overall operations become a barrier to set up these specialised homes,” Sinha told Silver Talkies.

There is an urgent need for the government and other stakeholders to join hands and focus on establishing a greater number of well-equipped dementia care homes to tackle the increasing burden of dementia.

To get a list of dementia care resources in India, city-wise, click here. Click here to know more about respite care and long term stay facilities.

September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day and observing the month of September as the Dementia month, Silver Talkies is covering various aspects of Dementia to make the readers aware of the condition. Click here for other related stories.

About Author

Sreemoyee Chatterjee

Sreemoyee Chatterjee is the content head of Sliver Talkies. A curious and talkative storyteller, she loves spending time with and working for the older adults and getting the best for them. Sreemoyee has served as a correspondent and on-field reporter for 4 years. A classical dancer and thespian by passion, she spends her leisure by writing poetry, scripts for stage theatres and listening to countryside music.