Assisted Living for Parkinson’s Disease Patients
According to the Parkinson's Foundation, only one percent of individuals over 60 are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The reason why the diagnosis number is so low is there is no way to test for this disease. That is why it is so important to get proper care for individuals who may have Parkinson's. Treatments are highly effective for helping reduce pain and tremors associated with the disease. Another way to improve the livelihood of seniors who may have Parkinson's is to choose an assisted living facility where they can receive specialized care.
What is Parkinson's Disease?
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains that Parkinson's disease is a type of motor system disorder. Individuals with this disease suffer from nerve damage, which leads to a loss of brain cells that produce dopamine. The symptoms of Parkinson's disease include four categories:
- Muscle stiffness
- Slow movement
- Impaired balance
For example, someone diagnosed with Parkinson's disease may have trouble walking, talking, or handling daily activities that require movement. They may have a trembling face or hands, and they may experience stiff joints and muscles. Other symptoms associated with this age-related disease include:
- Problems chewing and swallowing
- Skin problems
- Sleep disruptions
At this time there is no test that can be given to detect Parkinson's disease. Individuals can get a neurological exam which along with their medical history can show signs of the disease. However, in general, it is difficult to diagnose Parkinson's disease. In terms of treatments for this disease, there is not a cure. Fortunately, some medications are quite effective in relieving symptoms, which improves the quality of life for patients.
Why are Elders More Likely to Develop Parkinson's Disease?
This is a degenerative disease that most likely effects adults 41 and over. However, since it is a slowly progressing condition, it is often in the senior years that individuals with Parkinson's show clear symptoms. As noted, it is difficult to diagnose this disease. Therefore, it is often in the late stage when symptoms are more pronounced that individuals are diagnosed. By this time, they are more likely to be in their senior years.
Is Home Care Efficient for Individuals with Parkinson's?
The National Parkinson Foundation explains that while seniors can live at home, there are circumstances in which assisted living in a facility would be better. These include:
- The senior is unable to afford in-home nursing care, as Medicare only covers in-home care if the person requires extensively skilled care and is homebound.
- They do not have someone able to serve as a caregiver in the home on a daily basis.
- The patient's condition has advanced so that they require round-the-clock nursing.
- The home is not handicap-accessible, i.e., it should be a one-level home with handrails, bathroom accommodations, etc.
For seniors who have any of these issues, they will likely need to find a senior housing facility. An independent retirement community will not provide the level of care needed for a patient with Parkinson's disease. More likely the senior will need to move into an assisted living facility.
What Assisted Living Options Exist for Elderly Parkinson's Patients?
In an assisted living facility, seniors receive help with daily needs, such as preparing meals and going to the doctor. There is someone on site 24/7 for emergencies and homes are equipped with emergency call buttons. For someone with Parkinson's in assisted living, they may be interested in hiring a private nurse. This nurse would be able to provide specialized care for Parkinson's disease. Keep in mind, hiring a private nurse would be costly.
Another more affordable option is to find an assisted living center that accommodates Parkinson's patients. To find out if this is available in your area, contact the local assisted living providers. Ask if they provide specialized care or services for patients with Parkinson's.
What Services or Specialized Care is Offered at Assisted Living Facilities for Parkinson's Patients?
For someone with Parkinson's disease, they need increased accessibility. For instance, this can include increased access to group outings and social activities provided by the assisted living center. This also includes having staff available for assistance 24/7, which is available at most assisted living facilities. Increased accessibility also includes more onsite medical services and rehabilitation professionals.
In addition, an assisted living that caters to Parkinson's patients should have experience with residents who have the disease. More importantly, the staff needs to be trained on how to identify signs and symptoms of Parkinson's, as well as how to assist patients with the disease.
How Much Does Assisted Living for Elderly Parkinson's Patients Cost?
The National Care Planning Council reports that the median monthly cost for assisted living in the US was $3,185 in 2010. Annually the median cost of assisted living was $38,220. The states with the highest cost for assisted living were Alaska at $66,000 a year, followed by New Jersey, Delaware, and Massachusetts. The states with the lowest cost included Georgia at $28,200 followed by Missouri, Oklahoma, and Florida.
Keep in mind, with the increased level of care services needed for Parkinson's patients, this will increase the overall cost. For example, if a facility charges $400 for level 1 care, the charge for level 2 care may be $800 a month.
How Do I Pay for Assisted Living for Elderly Parkinson's Patients?
For starters, Medicare does not cover costs for assisted living for elderly Parkinson's patients. For low-income seniors, there is the option of Medicaid. However, the NCPC reports that only 11 percent of seniors in assisted living used Medicaid to pay for care in 2002. This may be due to the stringent rules for Medicaid recipients, such as they cannot have assets worth more than $2,000 in total.
The best solution for seniors is to purchase long-term care insurance to cover the costs of assisted living. Long-term care insurance typically covers this expense, but check the contract details to verify coverage. Ultimately, it's the family that pays for care. The NCPC reports that 75 percent of patients depend on family members to pay out-of-pocket for assisted living.
How Do I Find Assisted Living for Senior Parkinson's Patients?
There are a few resources to help you find assisted living centers near you: