In the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, most people are able to continue living at home, provided they have the appropriate support systems in place. The support system starts with a caregiver, someone who has primary responsibility for the care of the person with the disease.
Choosing home-based care for a loved one with Alzheimer's may be a difficult decision. It is best to make decisions about care early in the stages of the disease, when the person with Alzheimer's can take part in the decision-making process. Other family members who will be affected should also be part of the process.
Caring for a person with Alzheimer's in their own home has the obvious benefit of enabling the person to remain in surroundings that are familiar to them and, presumably, bring them comfort. But home-based care may also require that adjustments and modifications be made to the home. The type and extent of modifications depend upon the stage of the illness and the individual needs of the person with the disease.
Caregivers face a number of challenges, not the least of which is the emotional burden of watching someone you love slowly slip away. This emotional stress is compounded by the physical, logistical and financial difficulties of providing round-the-clock care for a person with a serious, progressive illness.
A vast network of social, medical and continuing-care services is available to help the person with Alzheimer's - and their caregiver(s) - get the best care and quality of life possible at each step along this difficult journey. The important thing is to be able to access and use this network to best advantage. Community programs that serve the needs of the elderly are vital resources to the caregiver. Your state or local agency on aging can guide you to the right resources near you.
Below is a list of services available to help you care from the first stages of the disease to the last.
To find resources like these in your area, use our Resource Locator. You can search by specific address, city, state, or ZIP code. Also visit BenefitsCheckup.org (will open in new window). BenefitsCheckup.org, a service of the National Council on Aging, is the nation's most comprehensive Web-based service to screen for benefits programs for seniors with limited income and resources.