Top Diagnosis to Successful Placement in Assisted Living
Mike McClernonMay 5th, 2020
Living with Chronic Illness within an Assisted Living Community
Older adults may experience a multitude of health conditions. Assisted Living Locators of Long Island is sharing some health conditions that often lead to successful placement in Assisted Living or Memory Care.
Dementia Associated with Alzheimer’s or Other Neurological Conditions
Dementia is a symptom, like pain. For seniors, the cause can be traced to a variety of illnesses including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and other organic brain diseases. Dementia interferes with memory, processing and judgement, and daily functioning. Symptoms often include forgetfulness, limited social skills, difficulty handling complex tasks, planning, and organizing. People with Dementia lose the ability to perform many/most of the Activities of Daily Living. At some point, a senior living with Dementia in their home is a danger to themselves and perhaps a danger to others.
Assisted Living Application: Early on in the disease process, some people with Dementia can live in Assisted Living. They will need prompting and eventually direct assistance with ADLs. As the condition progresses, they are better supported in a specialized Memory Care community, which is often located inside an Assisted Living community/building. Memory Care communities typically staff to manage virtually all the ADLs for their residents. This is a higher level of staffing than in Assisted Living. Memory Care communities also design activities and an overall environment that is supportive of the special cognitive needs of these residents. Remember that with advanced Dementia the goal is comfort and engagement.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
This is a chronic and common condition. People with CHF have a heart that does not pump blood as well as it should. As you can imagine, if your heart is not delivering oxygenated blood quickly and efficiently to your muscles and organs your ability to engage in physical activity will be limited. Sometimes people with CHF get tired so quickly and easily that the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) – dressing, bathing, shopping, preparing food, etc. – become impossible to manage at home. Life expectancy depends on the severity of the condition, but half of all people diagnosed with CHF will survive beyond 5 years.
Assisted Living Application: Some people with CHF can live quite well in Independent Living. As the condition progresses, people often need help with ADLs and placement in an Assisted Living community is best.
Parkinson’s is a neuromuscular disease. The brain is the affected organ, and because the brain is affected the musculature of the body becomes affected over time, too. People with this disease experience tremors, stiffness, slow movement, and loss of balance. They often appear to others to have a ‘flat’ facial expression and find speaking increasingly difficult. A percentage of Parkinson’s patients experience certain specific types of dementia, the most common of which is Lewy Body Dementia. This is a progressive disorder, and people may live a decade Persons may live 10 - 20 years depending on the general health status and age at diagnosis.
Assisted Living Application: People with Parkinson’s are well supported in Assisted Living communities. They have mobility and stiffness issues, and these can be supported within an Assisted Living community. They can also typically receive physical therapy within the AL Community. If the resident also experiences dementia related to Parkinson’s, a move to Memory Care within the Assisted Living community is appropriate. Within Memory Care, both physical and cognitive needs can be addressed.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
The practical impact of COPD on a person is much like the impact of CHF – A person just gets too short of breath to be physically active and live independently. Shopping, food prep, even simple tasks like dressing and bathing become incredibly challenging. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are some of the specific lung conditions included in the broad COPD group, but all of them result in difficulty breathing and poor oxygen saturation in the body. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath, wheezing and a chronic cough. Patients sometimes experience extreme anxiety as they struggle to breathe.
Assisted Living Application: People with COPD can be supported quite well in Assisted Living Communities. Almost all communities support oxygen tanks and concentrators, and all Assisted Living Communities help with ADLs and medications.
Millions of people suffer from Type 2 Diabetes. This condition is also called Metabolic Syndrome. Fundamentally, it is an inability to process sugar in all its forms in the body. Many people get this diagnosis later in life, and with medication and weight loss they can prevent the worst effects of the disease. Others, though, cannot get it under control and face the same profoundly serious health problems that those with Type 1 Diabetes must deal with. These health issues include damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, and other body parts and double the risk of heart attack and stroke. For many people, unfortunately, the circulation problems secondary to diabetes sometimes results in peripheral tissue necrosis (tissue death) and the need for amputation.
Assisted Living Application: Assisted Living can support people dealing with the impact of diabetes by providing ADL support for people with amputations and other complications of this disease. Most will also help manage insulin injections for residents. Reasonably managed diabetes is quite common in Assisted Living communities. It is important to remember, though, that Assisted Living helps with ADLs and is not inherently a medical environment. People with Diabetes can become totally bedbound and require medical assistance every day, and those people are better served in a traditional nursing home.