No group in my area offers home care for Alzheimer’s patients. Whom do I call when my husband gets bad enough to need 24-hour care, help with toileting and feeding, or assistance when I need to be out of the home on errands, paying bills, etc.?

It certainly sounds like you will need assistance in the future.

Can you try digging a bit deeper? While I know that families living in rural areas have significant challenges when it comes to accessing services, most areas offer something for caregivers. Look for a private company that offers in-home care, an assisted living facility that offers respite care, or a local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). AAAs are generally private, not-for-profit entities designated by the Older Americans Act to advocate, plan, coordinate and fund a system of elder support services in their areas. Search for your local agency at the website of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging [].

Even though this website told me that neither of the AAAs closest to you directly serves your county, you should give them a call. They may have received similar calls and have some good ideas for you.

Another resource is the Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, which lists your county in its service area. Find them or any local chapter at

If your rural area really offers no formal services, you may need to recruit informal help. Check with your faith community, friends and neighbors to try to find someone—perhaps a student—who can help.

While it may be challenging, many caregivers in your situation will move to be closer to family, or move to a community with more services and resources. You may want to consider this sooner, rather than later, so you won’t find yourself completely exhausted.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can be difficult. I encourage you to read my book for families, A Dignified Life: The Best Friends Approach to Alzheimer’s Care, which will be coming out in a new edition in October, or to read the helpful information and advice on this website.

6 thoughts on “What Can I Do If Alzheimer’s Services Aren’t Available in My Area?

  • Lorraine Lathrop

    I’m having trouble addressing my family member’s lack of hygiene. Any ideas on how to diplomatically approach this subject without antagonizing the “patient”?

  • suzanne ravgiala

    my dad was refusing to change his pull up diapers except once a day and it was in horrible shape by the next morning. all i wanted was for him to at least do it at night and morning, he did sit on the toilet to deficate. eventually he kept falling and we had to put him in a nursing home. there he let the nurses change him more often, so i guess he was just being stubborn with family.

  • Annie Thomas

    I’ve had similar experiences with Daddy – just no longer on his radar. I make up little reminders with motions like charades…. because he also has great hearing loss, I don’t want to raise my voice and be perceived as yelling or reprimanding. It takes much patience and repitition. I do get an occasional smile as he turns to go back into the bathroom to wash his hands after I have said, “Daddy, did you ….and rub my hands together in a washing motion.”
    I’ve had some funny journal entries after trying to get the false teeth to soak for the night….and the shaving –

  • melinda wagers

    we were having trouble with our mom’s hygene and we contacted our home health in our county and they send out someone twice a week to bath her and we do the in betweens when she will let us!

  • bill paul

    My wife will be 69 Dec- 7th. and was diagnosed with Dementia four years ago. I planned a birthday party for her that afternoon with family members. I will at some point have to ask her to bath and do the girly thing. Also, I will be doing the cooking and the hard part will come when I ask her to go bath while I grill the burgers. We simply cannot work together when it comes to preparing meals. She absolutely hates to bath and shampoo her hair. Fortunately, she loves to go places. This where I start to bribe her. I will say to her, go bath, get dressed because we are going to visit someone she like and knows very well. For some reason she remembers things like that longer and will continue doing what I ask her to do. I do the same type of bribery when she has a doctor’s appointment which she also hates. I never mention going to the doctor. I always find something she likes to do and I say to her, hurry up grab a quick shower. shampoo your hair and the sooner you get that done the quicker we can leave. Right or wrong it works every time and I wait till the last moment to do this.
    I feel that bribery is better than demanding,

  • jonathan smith

    Hi, if there is no Alzheimer’s services in your area and you are not able to get it from anywhere, then you do not need to worry about it. You can handle this situation by yourself. You just need to keep some things in your mind. You have to provide a safe environment to the patient. You should handle the patient peacefully. You also need to keep doing medication and bathing on a daily basis.

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