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Choosing Between Dementia Care And Assisted Living

by | Nov 29, 2023 | Caregivers Support, Caregiving, Community, Dementia

Caring for a dementia patient is no easy task, from the handling of memory loss, wandering, breakdown in communications to sleep problems, it takes a toll on the caregiver. Especially for first time caregivers of dementia patients, feelings of shock and distress might arise from seeing a loved one experience such behavioral changes. We previously covered dementia living in Singapore and support resources if you want to find out more.

Many then turn to alternative care options to provide professional care for the family member suffering from dementia. Home respite care, assisted living and dementia care are some common options. Many factors can shape your decision in choosing a suitable care option, from your loved one’s current abilities to your family’s budget. 

Here are some factors for consideration if you’re deciding between dementia care and assisted living:

1.   Level of supervision needed

Depending on the condition of your loved one suffering from dementia, it is important to choose a care option that can best cater to that need. If your loved one is suffering from mild and early stage dementia, they are likely to still be able to independently perform activities of daily living and might not need as much supervision. To allow one to age with independence, a general assisted living facility might be the better option here to still allow one to care for themselves with minimal supervision needed. In the assisted living facilities, we often see in-room emergency alert alarms and daily check-ins to ensure general well-being. 

For more advanced cases of dementia, safety is a huge concern as falls and wandering are dangerous dementia behaviors which pose a safety risk to both themselves and others. Dementia care facilities thus feature more user-centric design with layouts that minimize confusion and thus reducing the likelihood of falls and injuries. We also see more locked entrances and doorbells that signal entry and exit. 


2.   Amount of dedicated care required

Staff members at both assisted living and dementia care facilities have experience in supporting residents with activities of daily living. If one requires more caregiver attention for safety and social reasons, the dementia care option which has staff who are specially trained to administer dementia care might be the better option. Caregiving largely focuses on the physical aspect and it is easy to neglect the emotional aspect. Trained dementia caregivers are likely to have a better understanding of one’s emotional needs, helping them to manage their emotions and to stay as independent as possible.


3.   Availability of amenities 

The built environment plays a great part in shaping one’s physical and mental well-being. In assisted living communities, we typically see outdoor spaces like community gardens, fitness corners, art and crafts studios amongst many more. Whilst these are great, they might not always be the safest for dementia patients. Especially if one has more serious symptoms of dementia, the dementia care option might be the wiser choice as these facilities are built with layouts and design features to reduce confusion. For example color coded walls can make it easier for persons with memory loss to navigate around.


4.   Is therapy required?

Cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) involves activities and exercises that encourage thinking, concentration, communication and memory in the person with dementia. Some types of therapy for dementia patients are that of:

  • Music therapy, which improves mood and memory can help increase a sense of connection
  • Art therapy, which allows for self-expression can slow down cognitive decline
  • Reminiscence therapy, which uses senses like smell, taste, touch, and sight can help seniors remember people, events, and places from the past
  • Animal assisted therapy might help dementia patients by initiating social interaction in a controlled manner

These tailored therapies might be more commonplace in a dementia care option so if one needs such therapies, the dementia care option might just be the one. If one is already having such therapies on the side, and does not require any more, the assisted living option might be the more suited one. 


Dementia care resources – services at home and in centers 

Here are some great resources for dementia patients and their caregivers, which covers the condition, treatments, caring for dementia patients and also caregiver support. Dementia Singapore is the leading Social Service Agency (SSA) in specialised dementia care. Dementia Singapore aims to advocate for the needs of people living with dementia and their families. They also have a list of dementia daycare centers if you’re looking for one. Dementia Hub is another resource portal that houses the most relevant, comprehensive and up-to-date information on dementia. 

Whether you are suffering from dementia or caring for a loved one who has dementia, it is certainly heartening to see a myriad of support resources alongside the various initiatives to raise awareness amongst the community. This brings us as a society one step closer towards being a dementia friendly Singapore. Be it whether you need financial support, social assistance or just access to resources, do not hesitate to reach out and seek timely help.


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About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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