End-of-life Care and Legal Steps

At some point during the course of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, many caregivers find, as the disease progresses, that they can no longer continue home care. The decision to move your loved one to a residential care facility is likely difficult and emotional. This where a good support network can help—by supporting you emotionally and giving you access to valuable information about your options.

Options for residential facilities include group homes, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes. It’s helpful to begin looking into these options before you have to make the decision to move your loved one from home. Start by learning about facilities in your area. Healthcare providers, friends, family, and hospital social workers may be able to help you find facilities. As you research and visit possible facilities, consider what types of services are important to you and your loved one and make a list of questions to ask the staff. Services you may be looking for include activities, transportation, or special units for people with Alzheimer’s. Get a feel for each facility by talking with administration, nursing staff, and residents and observing how residents are treated.

Once you decide on a residential care facility and find an available room, determine the cost and whether Medicare or Medicaid is accepted. As well, be sure you clearly understand the contract and financial agreement. It may be helpful to discuss these with a lawyer before you sign them.

Finally, when the time comes to move your loved one into a facility, be aware that this a major transition for him or her, and for you. This may be an important time to call upon family and friends, support services, or a social worker.

Caregivers can find more information about support groups and services in the resources listed below.

Resources

Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center

Alzheimer’s Association

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

Children of Aging Parents

Sources

Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet. The National Institute on Aging website. Available at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/Alzheimers/Publications/adfact.htm. (Accessed October 2010).

NINDS Alzheimer’s Disease Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/. (Accessed October 2010).

Alzheimer’s Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/aging/healthybrain/alzheimers.htm.
(Accessed October 2010).