At What Point Do Dementia Patients Need 24-Hour Care?

If you have a parent or another loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia, you may wonder at what juncture in time will it become necessary for that person to receive around the clock care. There are some indicators that you should familiarize yourself with that point to the possibility that the time for 24-hour care has arrived:

  • Progressive memory loss
  • Increased agitation
  • Increased aggression
  • Social isolation
  • Rising safety issues
  • Unhealthy living conditions
  • Evidence of sundowning
  • Caregiver fatigue

Progressive Memory Loss

A primary consideration related to when an individual diagnosed with dementia needs around the clock care is the state of that individual’s memory loss. The fact is that a diagnosis of dementia can be made when an individual’s memory loss is not yet particularly profound. Having said that, the nature of the disease is that dementia cause a progressive deterioration of an individual’s memory. 

When it comes to the progression of memory loss and whether or not the time has arrived for 24-hour care, two elements must be considered:

First, you need to contemplate the extent of your loved one’s memory loss – how has the extent of a loved one’s memory loss progressive in the past six months.

Second, you need to consider the rate of memory loss – how quickly is your loved one succumbing to memory loss.

Increased Agitation

A sign that an individual may be ready for 24-hour care is that he or she is experiencing increased agitation more frequently. Some of this agitation can be attributed to growing frustration experienced by that individual with progressing memory problems. 

Increased Aggression

Unfortunately, some people with dementia eventually become rather aggressive. Increased aggression, demonstrated by both frequency and intensity, can be a sign that dementia is progressing and the time is near or has arrived for around the clock care.

Social Isolation

As dementia progresses, an individual with the disease is likely to become less social. One of the reasons this is the case is because of the impact dementia has on memory. This reality can make an individual more awkward and less confident in social settings. The end result is that an individual with dementia limits social interaction and ultimately may withdraw from it all together.

Rising Safety Issues

When very real safety issues become apparent, the time definitely has arrived to consider around the clock care for a loved one with dementia. Examples of safety issues abound. They include everything from leaving the oven on to wandering rather aimlessly (or completely aimlessly) away from the home to a host of other actions and inactions that fairly can be said to present a real threat to the wellbeing of an individual diagnosed with dementia.

Unhealthy Living Conditions

As dementia progresses, an individual with the diseases will be less capable to maintaining an appropriately clean residence. As a consequence, yet another of the signs that the time has arrived to seek 24-hour care for an individual diagnosed with dementia has arrived.

Evidence of Sundowning

Evidence of what has become known as sundowning represents another sign that 24-hour assistance is needed for an individual diagnosed with dementia. Sundowning is defined by the Mayo Clinic as:

The term “sundowning” refers to a state of confusion occurring in the late afternoon and spanning into the night. Sundowning can cause a variety of behaviors, such as confusion, anxiety, aggression or ignoring directions. Sundowning can also lead to pacing or wandering.

Sundowning isn’t a disease, but a group of symptoms that occur at a specific time of the day that may affect people with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. The exact cause of this behavior is unknown.

Caregiver Fatigue

Finally, a very real sign that the time is now for a person with dementia to obtain professional 24-hour care is caregiver fatigue demonstrated by the individual charged with assisting the individual with dementia. You need to keep in mind that the vast majority of primary caretakers for older Americans are unpaid relatives, usually adult children. These adult children provide care for their parents at no cost. 

Caregiver burnout is a very real thing. When a caregiver reaches that juncture, it truly behooves all those involved to take a serious look at 24-hour care.

There are a couple of more immediate options when it comes to 24-hour care for a patient afflicted with dementia. First, there is the possibility that an older person can remain at his or her home provided around the clock professional care is provided to that individual. Second, the best choice may be deemed to be transitioning the individual with dementia into a memory care center. These centers are specially designed and staffed to meet the specific needs of men and women who are diagnosed with dementia and beginning to experience a progressive decline in their condition.