New Jersey Home Care Stories
The doctor’s diagnosis, based on a brief exam and memory screening, came as no surprise to the patient’s spouse. All the same, hearing it was a shock.
The doctor told the woman that her husband of over 40 years – a former college professor, an opera buff, and a one-time marathoner who used to fly his own plane – had Alzheimer’s disease.
It didn’t come as a surprise, as he had become increasingly forgetful – to the point where he would frequently leave the door open when he left the house and would become lost in the neighborhood he had lived in for his entire adult life. He had trouble speaking in sentences and would forget certain words. He seemed increasingly disoriented about place and time, and repeatedly asked her the same questions.
And, while the news was simply a confirmation of what she already knew, the diagnosis rocked her to her very core because she knew the diagnosis would be life changing for her and her family. Her first thought was that she had to make an immediate decision and had two options: either quit her job as an attorney to care for him or start looking for a nursing home. Neither one was very appealing. Ten years younger than her husband, she loved her work, felt she had plenty more to offer, and knew that quitting her job would cause a financial hardship that, in light of her husband’s illness, they could ill afford. As for putting him in a nursing home, she viewed it as a last resort. She didn’t want to do that to him, or to herself.
When she soon came to the realization that hiring a home care agency was a third option, she sighed with relief. Choosing to go the home care route felt like a no-brainer.
An estimated 5.3 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, every 67 seconds someone gets the news that a loved one has the disease.
The number of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will only grow in the years ahead. By 2025, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is estimated to reach 7.1 million — a 40 percent increase.
As in the case of this woman and most family members, a diagnosis raises the immediate question: now what? As Alzheimer’s disease is progressive, home care is considered the most popular choice, particularly when the patient is in the mild and moderate stages of the disease (which can last for years). Rather than institutionalizing a patient, home care allows an individual with Alzheimer’s or other dementia to stay in the familiarity and comfort of his or her own home.
This can also be of great assistance to family caregivers, who are susceptible to burnout. Without getting a break, they can become physically ill and emotionally spent because of the stress and the lack of sleep caused by living with a loved who has Alzheimer’s disease. Most home care agencies offer respite care, which provides a family member, who remains the primary caregiver, a much-needed break to shop, visit friends, exercise, or simply get away for a few hours.
In many cases, New Jersey home care agencies train their staff to work with Alzheimer’s patients. Caring for such a patient on a one-to-one basis not only allows the individual to stay in his or her home, but allows for a higher level of personal care than in a nursing home. For this woman, and many others, home care has made a difficult situation a little more bearable.