When is it Time for Memory Care?
Almost six million people in the U.S. and 50 million worldwide have dementia. Dementia is one of the leading causes of disability among older people.
Dementia is abnormal changes to the cells of the brain which trigger a decline in cognitive abilities due to the brain’s physical deterioration. Brain cells cannot communicate normally. Thinking, behavior, and feelings are affected. Dementia is not a part of normal aging.
Watch for Signs
Some early signs of dementia include problems with short term memory, keeping track of important personal items (wallet, purse, keys), inability to perform tasks that have always been routine such as paying bills, planning and preparing meals, and remembering appointments. Typically signs of dementia start out slowly and gradually get worse which may be why it’s hard for people to pinpoint the changes as symptoms of dementia.
In my line of work, I meet a lot of people dealing with dementia from some point of view, whether it is the afflicted person themselves, their spouse, their children, their caregiver, or their friend. I ask people when did the dementia start and so many people respond with something like “looking back I think it started a long time before it was diagnosed. We just made excuses for it”.
Many people with early dementia can function and thrive in traditional assisted living simply by having more oversight and support, routine meals, medication management, activities, socialization, and engagement.
When is it Time?
So, then, when is it time for a memory care community?
The first thing to consider is the safety of the person with dementia.
Ask yourself these questions:
Has the person left his/her home on their own and not known how to find their way back?
Has the person gotten lost on routine trips?
Has the person had any motor vehicle accidents?
Are they leaving the stove or other appliances on after use?
The second thing to consider is are their personal care needs being met.
Are there increasing falls?
Are they becoming agitated or aggressive?
Are they able to take their medications properly?
Do they have increased anxiety?
Are they forgetting about their hygiene needs?
The third thing to consider is you. How are you?
Are you scared for your safety?
Are you burned out?
Are you becoming irritable in other parts of your life?
Is this disease affecting your health even though you are not the one with the disease?
Are you ignoring your needs for socialization and engagement?
Are you missing work?
Is your family missing you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions it is time to consider a memory care community. If you answered yes to multiple questions, it is time to find the right memory care community.
It is really important to assess all aspects to determine if it is time for memory care. Can you safely care for this person if they cannot do it for themselves? And if so, for how long?
I strongly encourage you to have a plan in place. Be pro-active, not re-active. Research the memory care communities in your area. Find the place that will provide the best care in an environment where your loved one will be feel the most comfortable. If possible, include your loved one in the process of finding the best place.
We all want to stay a home but sometimes home is not the best option
This post was written by Leigh Stocker, Director of Marketing for Summercrest Senior Living in Newport, New Hampshire.
You can reach Leigh at 603-863-8181 or firstname.lastname@example.org