Why do people with dementia have to move out of their home?

You may hate the idea of your loved one having to give up their home, but sometimes it can be for the best. Find out why it might happen and how to cope with feelings of guilt

Could this be you?

You know how much the person you’re caring for wants to stay at home and you’ve tried your very best to respect their wishes, but:

• Their behaviour is becoming very difficult to deal with.
• You don’t think they’re safe enough at home.
• You are physically and mentally exhausted.

It can be incredibly difficult to accept that a loved needs more care than you can give. But since dementia usually does get worse in time, the sad truth is that the majority of families and carers reach a similar point on the dementia journey.

Here’s the main reasons why it might happen:

They’re admitted to hospital

Accidents and falls do happen, even when you’ve done your very best to prevent them. People with dementia often have other medical conditions too such as heart disease or diabetes. If they have vascular dementia they are also more likely to suffer a stroke and need hospital treatment. Sadly, being in hospital can make them more confused, less independent and more likely to need residential care. And the longer they stay in hospital, the more likely this becomes.

Two facts worth knowing
1. More than one third of people with dementia who go into hospital from their own home, go into a care home after being discharged.
2. Falls, broken/fractured hips, urine infections, chest infections and strokes are the main reasons people with dementia are admitted to hospital.

They’re very prone to wandering

If they keep going out and getting lost, or constantly wander off when you go out with them, you might be very worried they’re going to get hurt. People with dementia are very vulnerable physically and mentally, and whilst there are ways to understand and cope with wandering you might not be able to prevent it happening, and feel they’d be better off in a safer environment where they’ll be constantly monitored.

Good to know
You may want to look into whether using a GPS location tracker could help tackle issues surrounding wandering. Many can be fitted to belts or on special wristbands so you can find out where someone is if they suddenly go missing.

They’re becoming angry or aggressive

This can be one of the toughest challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia, particularly if their anger or aggression seems to be directed at you, the person who loves them most. You might find you can deal with some aspects of difficult behaviour but if you find yourself in physical danger, it may well be time to consider residential care.

They have a ‘near miss’

Sometimes it takes a near disaster for family carers to accept they need to start looking at other living arrangements. For example, perhaps the person with dementia almost started a fire, or nearly fell down the stairs. If you’ve already made the home dementia-friendly as possible it’s likely you’ll decide to look at alternatives.

You can’t cope anymore

Don’t forget that caring for a loved one with dementia is one of the most difficult jobs you can do. Caregiver stress and depression are common side effects, and if you’re not young yourself, it might seriously affect your own health, too. There’s no shame in accepting your loved one now needs more care than you can provide.

Good to know
• Handing over some of the day-to-day care to a professional, could help your relationship rather than hinder it. Instead of being a nurse/carer you can go back to being their wife/partner/son/daughter – and enjoy some quality time with each other.
• You might be pleasantly surprised. More and more care homes are gearing up to the needs of people with dementia and can be very welcoming, homely places. Or you may find other choices available to you, such as assisted living or sheltered accommodation.

Feeling guilty?

Don’t worry, this is a decision which can leave everyone feeling sad and guilty. But try asking yourself what your loved one would say to you if they didn’t have dementia. Would they say; ‘I want you to keep worrying and wearing yourself out so that I can stay at home,’ or would they say; ‘You’ve done enough for me, and I want you to be happy, too.’

Two facts worth knowing

1. Around 322,000 people with dementia live in care homes – that’s one third of people with dementia.
2. Around 80 per cent of care home residents have some form of memory problem.