The Case for Compassionate Dementia Care at Home

The Case for Compassionate Dementia Care at Home

The Case for Compassionate Dementia Care at Home – Dementia can strike anyone at any time, and when it does, it can be devastating for the person affected and for family and friends. However, as time goes by the burden of caring for the person living with dementia becomes ever heavier, necessitating the making of difficult decisions.

In caring for a loved one living with dementia you will find there is a fine balance to be drawn between keeping them at home, surrounded by familiar things and precious memories, and moving them to a care home. Residential care homes have until fairly recently been the default choice for families who, in the past, may have had little support in caring for their loved ones. However, a change in attitudes has occurred as families increasingly recognise the advantages of care at home for people with dementia. It can work better for them but, most importantly, it can benefit their loved one.

The Comfort of Home and Family

To most of us, home is the source of treasured memories, laughter, family and the familiarity of being surrounded by our own furniture and possessions. The comfort to be had from sitting in a favourite chair to read, watch TV or chat to family and friends cannot be underestimated. Family photos on the walls, the layout of the home, the freedom to go to the warmth and comfort of one’s own bed, visits from much loved family members and friends – these are the things which provide a secure anchor to the past, present and future.

The continuity of familiar relationships with home and family provide the building blocks for emotional security for those living with dementia, as memories start to blur and fade. These are also the things which help to ease anxiety and confusion in people with dementia. A care home cannot possibly provide this to the same extent. No matter how good that care home may be it is not their home.

For a person living with dementia, keeping well is not just about getting the right    medications. Total well-being requires a range of activities to engage both body and mind. These could include gardening, walking, going shopping as well as doing normal day-to-day things within the home. Even when the memory starts to go and cognitive abilities start to fade, the ability to engage as much as possible in daily routines and activities helps to maintain a sense of normality and purpose. This all contributes to a sense of well-being.

Independence and Safe Boundaries at Home

One of the reasons why care homes were, in the past, considered the best option for dementia patients was due to the perception of safety. It was thought that a structured, and in some cases confined, environment offered the best chance of keeping people safe.

In these more enlightened days, it is understood that home-based care for a person with dementia, when carefully optimised, can provide the safety, security and familiarity so vital for their well-being. Through the simple act of removing potential hazards within the home and installing safety aids people with dementia can continue to move freely around familiar surroundings. The sense of independence this brings will contribute towards a greater quality of life for as long as possible.

As dementia progresses, the emotional challenges facing both the individual and family carers can increase. Home care benefits all those affected by providing the all-important continuity of emotional connections between them, allowing them to adapt to changing circumstances. At home, there is none of the upset which comes with frequent changes in personnel and the rigid routines of a care home. The comforting presence of well-known faces, surroundings and familiar routines promotes calmness, and reduces the emotional toll for all concerned.

Professional care at home can help family and caregivers to better understand the needs of the person with dementia thus providing a greater level of empathetic and compassionate care so vital for their well-being.

Tailored Care and Individual Attention

In many residential care homes today, it is unfortunate that the tailored care and individual attention we would all want for our loved ones is sadly lacking. This is often due to understaffing which means that carers, dedicated though they are, simply don’t have the time or resources to provide it. Sadly, too many dementia patients can fall through the cracks.

The perfect solution to this is home-based dementia care. Care at home provides the personal attention and individual care which is so important for a person with dementia who may have specific needs, preferences and routines. Personalised meal plans and activity routines can be drawn up to ensure continuity and familiarity. Home care takes a bespoke approach, treating the person with dementia as an individual who deserves to be treated with dignity, kindness and compassion. Home care adapts fully to the individual and this is something which is difficult to achieve in a residential care home setting.

Cost-effective Long-term Benefits With Home Care

Cost considerations must always be weighed up carefully before making any decision about the care of your loved one. However, the financial commitment should not overshadow what’s best for them.

Residential care homes often have very high overhead costs which can increase with little notice. It is a sad fact also that privately-owned care homes can go out of business with little notice for residents and families. In comparison, investing in home adaptations and professional in-home care services can be more sustainable and cost-effective in the long run. By avoiding the high costs imposed by a care home, financial resources can be concentrated on creating a safe, comfortable and familiar home environment vital to the loved one’s long-term well-being and physical health.

Home is Where We All Belong

Whilst some care homes undoubtedly provide specialised dementia care some do not and this is why home-based dementia care with its ethos of compassionate, bespoke care is increasingly seen as the way to go for families.

Poppy Watt

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