Guest Contributors

Are Dementia Patients Better off at Home?

Submitted by Guest Contributor
Emma Clarke
Burwood Nursing Home

This may seem like an obvious question to answer, but it is not always clear cut. There are many factors to consider when making the decision about whether a person with dementia is better off at home or in a care home.

Care homes don’t always have to be the best option for a person with dementia. In some cases, it may be better for them to stay at home with the right level of support.

There are many things to think about when making the decision about whether a person with dementia is better off at home or in a care home. Some of these include:

  • How severe the person’s dementia is
  • Whether they are able to do things for themselves, such as bathing, dressing and eating
  • Whether they are safe at home on their own
  • Whether they are getting the right level of care and support
  • Whether the family has enough time and energy to look after them at home
  • Whether the care home can meet the person’s needs, such as providing the right level of care and support, good quality food and a comfortable environment
  • The cost of care in a care home compared to at home

Carers, friends and family of a person with dementia may feel a range of different emotions when they move into a care home.

A safer environment offering fewer hospital admissions

A 2020 study on Emergency department and hospital admissions among people living in nursing homes and home care, were less likely to be admitted to hospital, where those living in their home were more likely to be admitted because of unintentional weight loss, polypharmacy, falls, and more severe caregiver burden.

This also has an economic burden on the services, with the estimated average costs per person with dementia/year among participants living in a nursing home were lower than those receiving home care.

Staying in a familiar atmosphere to retain memories

It is often found that people with dementia feel more relaxed and secure in their own home, which helps to preserve their memories for longer.

Research has shown that when people with dementia are stressed, their memory function can rapidly decline. In a care home, they may be exposed to many new environments and people, which could lead to increased levels of stress and a quicker decline in memory function.

Less social isolation

When people with dementia live at home, they are more likely to maintain social contact with friends and family. This can help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can often lead to a deterioration in mental health. In a care home, the person may only see a limited number of people on a daily basis, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Family carers are less likely to feel overwhelmed

It is often found that when family members care for a person with dementia at home, they can become overwhelmed and stressed. This is due to the fact that they have to juggle their own life with the demands of caring for someone else. In a care home, the carers will have specialist staff who are trained in how to deal with dementia patients, which can help to reduce the amount of stress that family members feel.

Maintaining your routine and independence

When a person with dementia lives at home, they are able to maintain their normal routine and daily activities. This can help to preserve their independence for longer. In a care home, the person may have to follow the schedules and routines of the care home, which can lead to a loss of independence.

Who makes the decision?

The decision about whether a person with dementia is better off at home or in a care home is usually made by the family members or friends, in consultation with the GP. However, it is important to involve the person with dementia in the decision-making process as much as possible, as they may have a preference about where they would like to live.

The patients level of understanding , as well as the severity of their dementia, will also play a role in the decision-making process. For example, if the person with dementia is unable to understand what is happening to them, or if they are likely to wander off and get lost, it may be best for them to live in a care home where they can be supervised at all times.

The final decision about whether a person with dementia is better off at home or in a care home will depend on a number of factors, including the patients preferences, the level of support available from family and friends, and the severity of their dementia.

About the Author: Emma Clarke

Emma Clarke Burwood Care
Emma Clarke

Emma Clarke is the Content Manager of Burwood Nursing Home in the United Kingdom.

They are a family-run care home in Poole, Dorset, providing the highest quality of nursing care within a homely and family-orientated care home environment.

They offer a beautiful 58 en suite room care home, run and owned by two generations of one family for more than 40 years.


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