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The Complete Guide to Caretaking of Seniors with Alzheimer's
If your loved one is living with Alzheimer’s disease or shows symptoms of early onset, the signs may not always be obvious, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Early detection is key when it comes to the proper diagnosis and treatment of disease.
- Over 49,000 Nevadans live with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia
- By 2025, this is expected to grow to 64,000, or 31%, the third fastest growth rate in the U.S.
- This is the sixth leading cause of death in Nevada.
So What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?
It’s one of the most common illnesses associated with dementia. The latter is a general term used by doctors to describe loss of memory and other cognitive abilities. As of 2022, Alzheimer’s disease comprised nearly 80% of all dementia cases.
One of the most common symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer’s is trouble remembering new information. The disease typically affects the part of our brain that learns. As the disease progresses through the brain, it affects our cognitive skills, mood, and behavior. This leads to confusion about events, time, and place. Ultimately, the fatal form of dementia will lead to difficulty speaking, swallowing, and walking.
In the State of Nevada, 2,167 people in hospice were diagnosed with dementia in 2017, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. That means 17% of total hospice patients were diagnosed. In 2012, there were 1,711 emergency visits per 1,000 people with dementia, the association said. Of those people, about 26% were readmitted to the hospital.
Is There a Cure for Alzheimer’s or Dementia?
There is currently no cure for the disease. Some treatments aim to reduce cognitive and functional decline in people living with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Other treatments also aim to improve quality of life by temporarily slowing the symptoms of dementia.
Is There a Cure for Alzheimer’s or Dementia?
With over six million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s, the cost of health and living facility care is expected to rise in the coming years. Nationally, the cost was about $355 billion in 2021. In three years, that’s calculated to climb to over $1.1 trillion.
In 2020, about $203 million of Medicaid costs included caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease. That’s expected to grow about 37% through 2025. Medicare spending was $36,533 per capita on people with dementia in 2022.
Additionally, since 2009, dementia caregivers have provided 20% more care to patients. That equates to 48,000 caregivers, 78 million hours of unpaid care, and $1.3 trillion of unpaid care.
Need Help With Alzheimer's Care?
SeniorFocus Nevada provides the resources you need to identify the right living facility for your loved ones. In fact, there are specialty Residential Homes for Groups (RFGs) that are officially endorsed for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia care. RFG is a 1:5 ratio of care.
Are Alzheimer’s and Dementia the Same Thing?
Simply, no they’re very different. While Alzheimer’s is considered a progressive disease that will worsen over time, dementia gradually worsens over a number of years. Those diagnosed under 65 years are considered to have younger-onset Alzheimer’s also called early-onset. This can be a misnomer as people with early onset Alzheimer’s can be in any stage of the disease.
For Alzheimer’s patients, memory loss is mild in early stages. However, in late-stage Alzheimer’s, patients can lose the ability to function in conversation or communicate with others. Once Alzheimer’s is diagnosed, the survival rate can range from four to eight years, with some cases of people having survived 20 years or more.
Quick Facts About Alzheimer’s Disease in Nevada
1. Disruptive Memory Loss
Forgetting recently learned information is one of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s disease. This can include dates or events, repeating the same question, and having to rely on reminders.
2. Planning and Problem Solving Becomes Difficult
They may experience difficulty in their ability to plan and/or solve problems with numbers or other critical thinking scenarios.
3. Easy Tasks Are Not Easy Anymore
People living with Alzheimer’s can find it difficult to finish daily tasks. It can be trouble driving to a regular spot they know or forgetting something on the grocery list.
4. Unaware of Time or Place
They can have a hard time managing important dates or time of day. This can include having trouble remembering things that didn’t just happen and other short-term memory problems.
5. Poor Comprehension of Relationships and Visual Images
Vision problems can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. This can take the form of having issues seeing signs on the road, objects, and even the text in a book.
6. New Problems with Speaking or Writing
They may call something familiar the wrong name. For example, they may refer to a watch as a “hand clock.” This may also include difficulty understanding or using words they already know.
7. Losing Things and Unable to Retrace Steps
Those with Alzheimer’s disease may place something they wouldn’t normally put there. Then, they will have trouble with the ability to retrace their steps to find it.
8. Poor Judgment
A lapse in decision-making also can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. This can be negligent spending or making purchases they cannot afford.
9. Cloistered from Social or Work Activities
Someone with Alzheimer’s may withdraw from social or work activities because the act of conversing with others is either too difficult or unfamiliar to them.
10. Mood and Personality Changes
Mood changes such as confusion, suspicion, depression, fear, and anxiety can be signs of Alzheimer’s. These people may be easily upset when faced with various situations.
Options for Alzheimer's Care
Residential Facilities for Groups (RFG)
In Nevada, there are approximately 350 RFG that serve 6,581 seniors, according to the Department of Health & Human Services Aging and Disability Services Division. All of these facilities must be licensed by the State Division of Public and Behavioral Health. RFG can house residents who are on Hospice and/or receiving services provided by Home Health. However, Hospice and Home Health at RFG are heavily regulated by specific medical conditions.
Most RFG accept private pay, long-term care insurance, and veteran’s benefits. The program provides less restrictive alternatives to nursing home care for those aged 65 and older. Eligible individuals must be able to function in a group home setting where attendant care for toileting, feeding, oral care, dressing, and bathing is made available.
RFGs also are commonly referred to as senior care homes or group homes. They are located in residential communities, which are retrofitted and licensed by the State of Nevada. RFG are licensed for 10 or fewer seniors and offer non-medical assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). RFG is a 1:5 ratio of care.
Assisted Living (ALF)
Assisted living facilities typically provide a more luxurious lifestyle when compared to RFG. Assistance ranges from basic to full care. This may include bathing, grooming, toileting, dressing, feeding, and medication management. ALF are licensed for 11 or more residents. Often residents are independent. This includes a 1:30 ratio of care. Price increases dramatically as level of care and ratio increases.
RFG and Assisted Living Facilities (ALF) Additional Services May Include:
Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) to check blood sugar
Home for Individualized Residential Care (HIRC)
The difference between HIRC and RFG comes down to individual needs and level of medical assistance required. HIRC offers your loved ones with a higher level of care with a staff to resident ratio of 1:2. In the State of Nevada, this living situation is a requirement for residents with PIC tubes and feeding tubes. They cannot go to RFG homes. HIRC is considered the smallest, most versatile, and private of all residential care facilities. They are located in private residences and limited to two beds. Caregivers are present 24/7.
HIRC provides customized services to meet the needs of your loved ones. Since these are dynamic by nature, HIRC can provide a unique lifestyle not found in other health care facilities.
HIRC Additional Services May Include:
• Wound care
• PICC line and feeding tube
All Living Options Include the Following:
Dressing and grooming
Healthy meals and snacks
Assistance with ambulation
24/7 trained staff
Mild dementia care
Home health and hospice, outside service provider
Stylist and podiatry services, outside service provider
Understanding the Difference Between Hospice, home health, and Personal Care Attendant (PCA)
Hospice care provides compassion for people who require specialized care for incurable illnesses, like terminal Stage IV cancer, or are nearing their end of life—but are not seeking life-extending measures like dialysis. A hospice team may include doctors, nurses, home health providers, social workers, religious leaders, and family. Hospice is covered by medical insurance. Another option is Palliative Hospice. This type of care focuses on the comfort of your loved ones, with a keen eye on their current health condition.
This can be provided at Residential Facilities for Groups, HIRC, Assisted Living Facilities, or at home after discharge from hospital or rehabilitation center. HH can include a nurse, physical therapy, occupational therapy, RN visits, a chaplain, and assistance with bathing. HH provides disease management and education of the following: diabetes, wound care, hypertension, surgical aftercare, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, swallowing issues, rehabilitation services, and community resource coordination. This option is covered by medical insurance.
PCA are caregivers who come into your home to support ADLs, allowing you to stay at home as long as possible. They will help with mobility support, personal hygiene, and other non-medical activities of daily living. This may include cooking/feeding, light cleaning, bathing, running errands, and medication management. PCA is covered by long term care insurance, VA benefits, and private pay. Because PCAs are non-Medicaid, they are not covered by medical insurance. The difference between RFG and PCA is they both offer caregivers. RF has caregivers in provider homes, while PCA has caregivers in their home.
According to the State of Nevada, non-medical care is considered assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). This allows for a level of at-home privacy not offered with other facilities. Employers of the PCA are 100% responsible for all costs related to them. This lessens the risk of inviting a stranger into your home.
PCA can be paid via private pay, veteran’s administration, community-based waiver program, long-term care insurance, Nevada Medicaid, or respite grants.
Additional PCA Services May Include:
- Assistance with bathing and personal care
- Preparation of healthy meals
- Light Housekeeping
- Any other minor needs related to the maintenance of personal hygiene
- Grocery shopping
- Customized schedules
- Medication Reminders
If you have any questions about choosing our facilities and services for your loved ones, please call the Senior Focus Team at 702-672-5611 or email email@example.com.