What Is Dementia Like Outside the Nursing Home?

Most of the research on dementia patients’ experiences has focused on hospitals and nursing homes. After all, those are the easiest sites to study. But many of America’s dementia patients receive their care in the privacy of their own homes. So what is the experience like for them?

GeriPal, a popular blog focusing on dementia and palliative care, relays a recent study from the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS). While much of GeriPal’s coverage is addressed to palliative caregivers and how they can improve their services, there are at least two key findings that are of note for the general population:

  • As in nursing homes and hospitals, dementia patients often experience some degree of ongoing pain. Fortunately, this is something that medicine and palliative care can address to some considerable extent in both the private residence and the nursing facility, but treatment may be more readily available in the latter.
  • Patients who receive most of their care outside of a nursing home ultimately experience a significantly higher rate of transfer in the site of their care. In other words, patients who do not reside in a nursing home are more likely to “bounce” between the home, a hospital, and other care sites. While these site transitions can be managed, they do require greater focus and are generally considered less desirable than a single, consistent site of high-quality care.

So while America’s nursing homes are far from perfect, they may provide some meaningful benefits to dementia patients as opposed to the in-home care option. Of course, nursing homes are extremely expensive. (In-home care comes with a big price tag too, but is generally more affordable than a skilled nursing facility.)

Ultimately, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each senior’s needs are unique, and every family/in-home-care situation is different.

At Medina Law Group, our focus is on making sure that financial constraints don’t force you into a treatment option you aren’t comfortable with. Our advance planning, long-term care preparation, and crisis management services can help you and your loved ones access the care that makes the most sense for you. We can even help you figure out which kind of care that might be. Give us a call today.