There is a common belief in the world of elder care and dementia that most folks with dementia end up moving into skilled nursing facilities. From our experience, at Support For Home In-Home Care, that is a bit of a myth, as we take care of many folks with dementia, at home, either supplementing a family caregiver or providing full-time care.
Well, in a new study, just published today in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Dr. Christopher Callahan and colleagues from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis conclude that our experience is, in fact, typical.
In their study of 1500 dementia patients, they found that 74% who were transferred to a nursing home did not, in fact, stay there. While about a quarter went into hospital from the nursing home, the majority returned to their own homes.
Another finding in the study is something that we in the elder care industry are focusing on more an more, and that is “transitions of care.” You can read more about this at the National Transitions of Care Coalition, but the basic issue is that elder care is, in fact, a network of service providers, medical and non-medical, who must work closely together, as the needs — and even the locations — of the patient / elder change. We will talk more about Transitions of Care in a future post.
In their study, the researchers found that the majority of care is provided by family caregivers. That also corresponds with our experience. Quite often, the agency with professional caregivers is brought into the picture to provide respite for the family caregiver. As the dementia progresses, there is often a swing of the pendulum from the family caregiver to the professional service provider, due to the incredible stress on the family.
The bottom line, however, is that, with family care and professional support, the dementia patient can — and does — remain at home, all the way. But, then, we could have told them.
Best wishes. Bert