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Living Through Windows…

Alzheimer's Disease

Options For Care

By Mike Bockoven
michael.bockoven@theindependent.com

Erin Buhr, a licensed practical nurse at Edgewood Vista in Grand Island, has noticed something about the moments when families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia start to knock on the doors of care facilities.

“It seems like there’s a certain window of time when a family member can care for someone and it either works or it doesn’t,” she said. “The people who take tours are on that line between it working and it not working.”

A good majority of families care for their loved ones in their homes, and many professionals feel that is actually best for most patients. However, when that line is crossed and a loved one can no longer provide care, what are the options? In Grand Island, the Grand Island Veterans Home and Edgewood Vista care for both men and women with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The veterans home is open only to veterans and the spouses of veterans. Edgewood Vista is a 14-bed private-care facility.

Other care and assisted-living facilities do care for people with Alzheimer’s up to a certain stage, but when a person can no longer bathe or feed himself or herself or use the rest room without aid, that’s usually when more care is needed, said Karen Noel, director of the Alzheimer’s Association of the Great Plains.

“That’s usually the cutoff line,” she said. “Different places do it different ways, but those later stages require a different level of care.”

Cost is also a large issue for many families, as a good number of care facilities cost $80 to $120 a day to care for a loved one.

As for philosophies of care, it can often vary from place to place. Faye Roebuck, administrator of Edgewood Vista, said her facility attempts to make the environment of care as much like home as possible. Edgewood Vista is outfitted with a kitchen where residents can help cook, the facility provides private and semi-private rooms where personal effects are welcome, and it provides nearly constant activity.
Other philosophies depend on the facility, so Noel said it’s best for those caring for a loved one to tour a potential care facility and pay attention to its philosophy. Usually, it takes an Alzheimer’s patient around a month to adjust to new surroundings.

For those who want to care for a loved one at home, many options are available for information, support and respite. The Alzheimer’s Association of the Great Plains has an online resource at www.alzgreatplains.org that can help someone get started.

Noel said the online community is a great new point for those caring for loved ones, but the Alzheimer’s Association is constantly lobbying for more community-based services such as adult day care, respite services and other resources to receive state and federal funding.

“We want to see more money go into community services,” she said. “In the rural areas, especially, the resources are not there.”

How to care for someone at home depends completely on the individual situation. However, as the disease progresses, Noel said, cooking and finding one’s way around the house can be increasingly problematic and require creative ways to help a loved one cope with his or her condition.