When Couples Need Different Senior Care


When Couples Need Different Senior Care

Timing is Crucial

We often see that many couples transition to assisted living somewhat 'late' as their quality of life residing at home has generally been worsening for quite some time, yet they delay their transition to more appropriate care because they believe they would lose their sense of independence by moving into a senior living community. However, if the couple is limited to one or two rooms in their home, which is frequently the situation, with physical or cognitive complications seriously restricting one partner and caregivers are consistently in the home, then independence has likely already been lost. The healthier option would be to move into an assisted living or memory care community where proper care is readily available, which will provide more time to enjoy family, friends, and social activities. So often, people tell us "I wish I would have moved here sooner".

Make Decisions as Early as Possible

Surprisingly, many forms of dementia, including those related to Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, have relatively foreseeable progression timetables. Most individuals experience a swift deterioration of cognitive and physical capabilities in the latter years of dementia. Many couples wish to live together for as long as they can, and they seek out senior living options that will grant them the means to do so for as long as possible. Modern assisted living and memory care communities are innovative enough to make this a practical option, but the sooner couples make these decisions the better.

The Most Common Scenario

Of all the situations we encounter, the most common scenario occurs when one partner requires memory care while the other partner does not. In a shocking number of cases, the couple is allowed to live with one another in an assisted living community, with the implementation of a care plan that provides dementia support to the partner who needs it, such as assistance with activities of daily living (e.g. bathing, dressing, grooming, etc.). On some occasions, the partner who requires dementia care will occupy the memory care section of the same senior living community during the day to give them the opportunity to participate in activities that align with their dementia care needs. This arrangement also affords the partner without dementia a chance to freely engage in activities that peak their interests with the assurance that their partner is being appropriately cared for. The couple can then spend their evenings together in their shared suite. There are a few communities in the Northern Virginia area that offer an intermediate memory care option for individuals with moderate dementia care needs.

While quite uncommon, some senior living communities will accommodate couples in memory care even when only one partner has dementia. This is not typically allowed because some states, including Virginia, require patients to have an official dementia diagnosis before they can reside in a memory care community. However, some communities can obtain a waiver that permits them to house couples under these conditions anyway. These communities will also iron out the logistics necessary to allow each partner access to community activities best suited for their specific physical and cognitive needs and capabilities. This is one more way for couples to remain together even when their care requirements differ.

When Dementia Advances

There are numerous causes of dementia, and each one advances at a different rate. Moreover, most types of dementia involve neuromuscular and other physical effects at different stages of the disease’s progression. In the later phases of Alzheimer's, for instance, people will ordinarily experience limited mobility, speech, and muscle function. Eventually, those with progressive dementia will typically require specialized care in a memory care community. This stage is incredibly difficult for couples, and their options and decisions are dictated by several factors, with cost being at the forefront. In some cases, couples will need to move into separate suites or even different senior living communities to ensure that both partners receive the proper care they need.

Despite the challenges, senior living communities consistently attempt to oblige couples with varying conditions and abilities in order to grant them as much time together as possible, and our senior care experts can work with you to find assisted living or memory care communities best suited to make this happen.

For more information or assistance, please call us today at (703) 878-7870 or contact us at Assisted Living Locators of Northern Virginia.