Choosing Appropriate Care for Your Loved One: Memory Care vs. Assisted Living, Foster Care or Home Care

Caregiver helping senior man and his wheelchair
Does your loved one need home care, memory care, or another type of care?

We understand. Decisions are hard.

Home care is often the easiest, most flexible, and most comfortable care model. Home care also helps families transition from independence to a higher level of care, even when dementia or other cognitive difficulties lead to the need for memory care. The following fictional characters will illustrate a common scenario.

Mary, a 75-year-old woman with chronic pain, promised her husband Dan, who has dementia, that she would not move him into “a home.” However, that was years ago, and now Mary is exhausted. She wakes up every time Dan wakes up to use the bathroom. She worries he might fall or do something unsafe if she is not vigilant. She is afraid to go shopping, to the doctor, or to visit her sister. She is afraid she made a promise she cannot keep.

For several years, daughter Sarah did major shopping and cleaning one weekend a month. However, since Dan’s dementia has worsened, she has been checking on them frequently after work. She also spends most weekends sleeping in her childhood bedroom. Now Sarah is tired, too. She has fallen behind in her own care needs:  calling in her own prescriptions, seeing a doctor, replacing her car’s tires, and keeping up with meal prep and chores in her own home. She fell asleep at her desk at work. Her husband has made a few comments about never seeing her anymore.

During a home care assessment with Mary and Dan, we discuss an ideal schedule and care plan. While Mary is resting, shopping, visiting, or attending to her own medical needs, a caregiver will ensure Dan takes a shower and changes his clothes. The caregiver will change bedding, do laundry, prepare meals, and do basic housekeeping. She will take him for short walks, listen to his war stories, help him use the stereo, and encourage him to sing along.

We also discuss likely future scenarios.

If Dan’s mobility declines, he may not remember to use his walker every time he gets up. He might forget he cannot navigate stairs or go outside safely. The caregiver will supervise his activities.

However, if Dan starts falling frequently or needs help for every transfer, Mary should seek additional care. Sarah cannot move in, and it would be unrealistic to expect Mary to help Dan every time he needs to go to the bathroom or gets hungry or bored or thinks it is daytime when it is really night.

Ideally, families should discuss options in advance:  more home care, or moving to one of the following facilities:

  • Foster care homes are licensed in three levels according to owner/manager competencies. Up to five residents, two people per room, may live in a foster home. Foster care is ideal for someone who needs frequent supervision, but whose behaviors are not dangerous or disruptive to others.
  • Assisted living provides regular daily care in a studio apartment, with a measure of privacy and quiet. All residents must be able to communicate their needs and not be at risk of wandering and getting lost.
  • Memory care homes train caregivers for end stage dementia. Memory care is a safer solution for adults who are unable to communicate their needs, are an escape risk, or need frequent physical assistance with regular daily activities. Privacy and quiet are unlikely.

We hope this blog post will help you find appropriate care for your loved ones. If you would like to explore whether our home care services in Winchester and surrounding areas are right for you, contact Advantage Home Care today at 541-440-0933. We have been proudly serving families through Douglas County since 2007 and we’d be honored to help someone you love remain safe and independent in the comfort of home.