More Americans now receive home dementia care than ever before. But despite the higher demand for dementia care, there are still several common misconceptions about this type of home care.
Recently, we spoke with Barney Freiberg-Dale, co-director of Visiting Angels in Newton, MA. Barney and his wife/co-director Eileen have responded to the increased need for dementia care by investing heavily in a specialized dementia care program. In providing dementia care for the Newton area, Barney told us there is one misconception that he comes across again and again.
“A lot of people think of it as babysitting,” he says. Over the past few years, Barney and Eileen have been looking to change that misconception. “Specialized dementia care goes way, way beyond that.”
Dementia Care About Quality of Life
Before starting his Visiting Angels office, Barney worked for 25 years in the rehabilitation field as a counselor and administrator. In his line of work, Barney attended to those with mental and cognitive impairments and disabilities. So, when Barney and Eileen noticed a need for high-quality dementia care in the Greater Boston Area, Barney knew that his professional experience would serve him well.
Barney’s combined experience in disability care and senior care also meant that he knew how big a difference specialized dementia care can make. “It’s about improving quality of life so that our clients can live longer at home,” he explains. Through Barney and Eileen’s help, Newton-area families can hire specially trained caregivers who can attend to the emotional and mental challenges faced by seniors with dementia.
Programs like the one run by Barney and Eileen offer a robust array of services that go beyond simple monitoring. Caregivers are specially trained to support seniors through the challenges of dementia, helping with aspects of care like planning and preparing brain-healthy meals, encouraging light exercise, and managing dementia-related agitation and anxiety. Care is personalized for every recipient, ensuring caregivers can attend to the specific needs and concerns of every senior.
As a result, many of these seniors are able to live at home longer than they would without specialized care. “Specialized dementia care is not simply ‘sitting with grandma,’” says Barney. “It can really have an impact on the ability for seniors to stay at home and be happy.”
The Future of Dementia Care
Barney and Eileen invested in a robust dementia care program partly in response to changing demographics. Barney believes that advances in health care will mean that Baby Boomers will need physical home care assistance later than their parents’ generation. “They will need home care for physical difficulties in smaller proportion than they did before,” explains Barney.
But despite recent advances in health care, those advances haven’t extended to cognitive disability. “Dementia has been stubborn in the face of medical treatment.”
In Barney’s view, this means that those coping with dementia will account for a larger share of the senior care market over the next ten to fifteen years. In response, Barney and Eileen have poured resources into their dementia care services, including specialized training for their caregivers and hiring a Certified Dementia Practitioner to help manage this program.
Quality Care Driven by Compassion
For Barney and Eileen, compassion has been at the heart of their work since day one. “We’re emotionally affected by the situation that our clients find themselves in,” says Barney. “We really understand, I think, how difficult the period of aging is, both for the senior and the family members who are trying to support that senior.”
That compassionate approach has served them well as they have expanded their dementia care program. And as their program has expanded, Barney has been getting the word out, letting families in the Greater Boston Area know that dementia care can do more for their loved ones than they might have first expected.
Do you have a loved one in need of dementia care? Many Visiting Angels locations offer specialized dementia care services as part of our Life Care Navigation™ program. We encourage you to contact your local office today to learn more about our services and book a free, in-home assessment for your loved one.