The most frequent questions we get asked about our memory care facility are "When is memory care needed?" and "How will I know if it's the right time for memory care?"
However, there is no black-and-white, clear-cut response because every family situation is unique.
The transition from care at home to a full-time memory care community can seem like an intimidating experience. After all, you want the absolute best care and attention for your family members. We understand! So we've put together a blog to help you determine if it's time to look into memory care communities.
With this article, we're going to cover the signs that it's time to make the move into a memory care program. We'll also explain how moving your loved one to the right place will be better for their mental, emotional, and physical health, as well as your own! So let's look at the signs that it's time to start the search for a memory care community.
Your Loved One Has Been Formally Diagnosed With Alzheimer's Disease or Dementia
As we age, our mobility and memory will suffer. That's a part of the natural aging process. But people living with dementia and Alzheimer's experience these cognitive issues on a more severe level.
Resist the urge to self-diagnose after signs of memory loss, and be sure your loved one is getting proper attention from a physician. Mild confusion or mobility struggles may not be related to dementia, in which case your beloved patient may need a different type of care.
- Candid conversations with his or her physician will help you decide if a memory care facility is necessary for your family member.
- If your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, know that life in a memory care home is probably an eventuality you'll want to prepare for.
Brief Definitions of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia
Per the Alzheimer's Association, "Alzheimer's disease is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks."
Dementia is not a specific disease, but a group of symptoms relating to the loss of cognitive function. When our loved ones suffer from dementia, they'll have challenges with thinking and memory, to the point they struggle to complete basic tasks like taking a shower or properly washing their hair.
Is Your Loved One Neglecting Their Hygiene?
According to Alzheimersblog.org, poor hygiene can become a dangerous issue for our loved ones. Folks living with dementia may refuse to bathe, and it can have medical consequences like urinary tract infections (UTIs), rashes, ringworm, and oral (mouth) issues. If your family member is struggling (or refusing) to care for themselves, it can become incredibly stressful for caregivers, and memory care is likely necessary.
Understand that your loved one isn't trying to be purposefully belligerent. They may find all the personal care items on the counter to be confusing, and they may perceive images in the mirror as strangers looking back at them. If you find your loved one refusing to go in the bathroom, or if you're confused by other challenging behaviors, it might be time to make a move to memory care.
Changes in Behavior May Mean Memory Care Is Necessary
If your family member is acting differently compared to their usual self, it's likely a sign that memory care may be necessary. These are common signs that it might be time to consider memory care:
- not opening their mail or paying bills
- losing interest in their favorite pastimes
- refusing to drive
- declining social invitations they would usually look forward to
- avoiding their favorite social interactions, like worship services or hairdresser appointments
- weight loss/physical changes to their body
- lethargic or resistant to participating in social activities
- struggling with daily activities
When your loved one starts to struggle with these activities of daily living, it's essential to seek professional help. Caregivers can handle a lot of stress, but severe incontinence problems are often clear indicators that your family member should transfer from homecare to a memory care program.
Both related family caregivers and professional in-home providers can quickly become overwhelmed when incontinence becomes an issue. If you're struggling to cope with an elderly family member who is having this problem, know that you're not alone! Incontinence is one of the leading reasons families decide it is the right time for memory care.
Being a caregiver for a loved one with dementia is incredibly stressful. It's challenging to help with nutrition and hygiene, keep them safe from wandering, and cope with changes in moods and behavior, all while managing a home and still getting to work on time.
All that stress can lead to high blood pressure, marital stress, mood swings, and headaches. When the stress of caring for your loved one is causing problems at your job or in your marriage, it's the right time to look into memory care.
Wandering: When it's Unsafe to Care for Your Loved One at Home
Wandering out of the home, or even out of the neighborhood, is a tendency experienced by about 60% of Alzheimer's patients. We've talked about wandering elsewhere in our blogs. Memory care communities are always locked precisely for this reason.
If your loved one wanders, we know it can be utterly terrifying. Just know that it's a sign that memory care is necessary.
Professional Memory Care Will Improve Your Loved One's Quality of Life, and Yours Too.
When a beloved family member is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia, families often go to great lengths to keep them at home. But the added stress of caring for a loved one, both physically and financially, can become a burden on the entire family. As we've already mentioned, caregivers are prone to stress-related health problems like headaches and high blood pressure.
Housing an extra human can quickly become costly. The added expenses of groceries, utilities, gas, and time investments can cause caregivers to burn out quickly. There is no shame in it! Caregiver stress and burnout are another leading reason families look into memory care.
You need to understand that an excellent memory care facility will improve your loved one's quality of life too! Memory care homes are designed specifically for dementia patients. They include unique amenities like:
- a home-like atmosphere so your family member feels comfortable and at ease
- family-style meals, rather than cafeteria settings
- professional medication management by skilled nursing staff/medical care
- access to your loved one's favorite doctors and medical professionals
- locked doors and gates to prevent wandering mishaps
- a primary caregiver to help with daily activities
- memory-building and cognitive exercises designed to slow the progression of the disease
- a well-trained staff that has a thorough understanding of dementia or Alzheimer's disease and their treatments
Ultimately, you'll know it's the right time for memory care if you feel that your loved one will have a better quality of life in a specialized senior living community. The peace of mind you'll get knowing that your loved one is getting the level of care they need is well worth it.
Whether the right time for memory care is now or down the road, know that you're not alone in this struggle. Weatherly Inn is always available to help you decide when is the right time for memory care. Reach out to us today if you have questions, or if you think memory care is necessary.
In the meantime, if you want to learn about our Seattle area assisted living communities and independent living programs, check out Weatherly's senior care options.
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