Dementia care in your own home: What you need to know

A common question for those with dementia and their loved ones is: is staying at home or moving into a specialist dementia care home best? There are pros and cons to both arrangements, but often it comes down to judging when dementia care in your own home isn’t practical, safe or most beneficial for the individual living with dementia. Dementia care in your own home may enable you to live largely independently for many years, but often there comes a point when it is in your own interests to have more comprehensive care provided in a care home setting. It can be a difficult decision, but feeling in control of it is important.

Here we look at everything you need to know about dementia care in your own home so that you can make the best decisions for your future.

The pros and cons of dementia care in your own home

· Familiar environment

Your home is, of course, your most familiar environment and this is a huge draw for remaining at home. This can be very reassuring in the short term. It allows you to retain independence for as long as possible.

However, over time, it may become apparent that your home isn’t the safest or most comfortable place anymore as it hasn’t been designed for dementia living. Accessibility may become a problem, and even simple things like wires on the floor can become problematic. Conversely, a care home can become a safe and familiar place, with familiar objects and furniture from home, while also being equipped to meet your needs. Good care homes support your independence as much as possible too.

· Privacy

It often feels that remaining at home ensures the highest levels of privacy and dignity.

Unfortunately, privacy can quickly become loneliness and isolation. Specialist dementia care homes respect the dignity and privacy of their residents.

· Care provision

Dementia care can be tailored to your specific requirements. At home you can choose a very personal care package. However, bear in mind that even with live in carers, they need a break of several hours each day and night time disturbances are charged for in addition. There is also minimal variety in carers, which can be either good or bad. In addition, you may have employer responsibilities when choosing at-home dementia care.

· Proximity to family and friends

Staying at home can in the short term ensure you see more of family and friends. Bear in mind that over time, visits may become solely focused on care, rather than companionship. In a care home, visits should be encouraged and because your loved ones aren’t providing care or practical support, the visits can be considerably more pleasurable.

· Pets

Staying at home often allows you to keep your beloved pet with you. If this is a stumbling block for getting specialist dementia care then speak to potential homes about visits from pets. Many care homes welcome visits from pets, knowing the joy they can bring.

· Cost

Many believe that staying at home is the cheapest option. In reality, this is rarely the case. The upfront care fees may, on the face of it appear less. However, remember that you probably need to pay extras on top, such as travel costs and night-waking. Furthermore, you still need to maintain the home, often organising costly adaptations to make it safe and suitable. In addition, there are the usual costs of utilities and food.

Care home fees are generally all-in. Everything is included from 24 hour care to all meals.

When is it time to move into a specialist dementia care home?

The move to a care home needs to happen when it is no longer possible for you to live safely at home. In addition, a care home can offer much more in terms of companionship, supportive therapies, wider services and 24-7 care.

Often resistance to moving into a dementia care home comes from preconceived ideas. In reality, you will get to form relationships with carers who get to know you and feel genuine affection towards you. You will benefit from more stimulation and engagement. You and your loved ones won’t need to worry about things such as home maintenance and paying bills, or even preparing meals or doing the laundry.

Many people with dementia prefer to move into a care home when they still have some capacity to be involved in the decision. This allows you to visit the home and become familiar with it. This enables you to feel in control and see the benefits of a specialist dementia care home for yourself. You can discover the wonderful grounds or find out that the social and activities programme is leagues above what you’ve been enjoying at home.

Furthermore, if you are concerned about burdening loved ones with your care needs, then a specialist dementia care home can be the answer. Often we find that familial relationships improve greatly following a care home move. Caring is left to the experts and you can go back to enjoying a more balanced relationship.

Choose a care home that offers resident-centred care, where your care needs are met on an individual basis, so that you get the best of both worlds.

Come and see for yourself what excellent specialist residential dementia care looks like by visiting our care homes in the south west.