Beyond Forgetfulness: Knowing When to Seek a Memory Care Facility
Deciding to move a loved one to a memory care facility can represent a significant lifestyle change. It’s not easy to think about a transition away from independent living.
Whether its a partner with early age dementia, or indeed a parent, it may be a life decision that is forced upon you.
However dementia and Alzheimer’s disease progress over time and most family members aren’t equipped to care for someone with advanced forms of these conditions.
So it might be the time to have this discussion before symptoms get worse.
What is a memory care facility?
A memory care facility is a specialized residential setting that provides support and care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other memory-related conditions.
These facilities provide a secure, orderly atmosphere where people can receive assistance with everyday tasks, including getting dressed, bathing, managing their medications, and preparing meals.
Memory care facilities also provide cognitive stimulation programs and tailored care plans to help residents maintain their cognitive abilities for as long as possible.
What are the warning signs that someone needs memory care?
Making the decision to move a loved one to a memory care facility can represent a major lifestyle change. It’s not easy to think about a transition away from independent living. Here are a few indicators that someone needs memory care:
Changes in behaviour:
The primary indicators to look for are changes in your loved one’s behaviour. An individual with a memory problem may experience anxiety or irritability.
They could also neglect to maintain their hygiene or complete everyday duties. Some persons who have memory issues also develop antisocial and withdrawing tendencies.
Lack of safety at home:
Memory-related conditions can impair a person’s judgment and increase the risk of accidents or injuries.
If you observe signs of unsafe behaviour, such as leaving the stove on or wandering outside without proper clothing, it may be time to consider a memory care facility.
Medication management issues:
Many older Americans take medications for heart disease, arthritic pain, or other medical conditions. Consistently taking those medications is often vital to a prolonged, healthy life.
If you notice your aging loved one is skipping their prescriptions or taking them too many times a day, that’s often an indication that they may require professional caregiving.
Changes in temperament and personality:
Take note of any changes in how your loved one takes care of themselves or their home.
Here are some examples to watch for:
- A loved one has a noticeable body odor or unkempt appearance, despite traditionally taking pride in looking their best.
- You notice your loved one wearing the same clothes multiple days.
- Your aging parent or spouse struggles to keep up with doing the laundry or taking out the trash.
- Your loved one is not tossing out spoiled food and may even eat it.
Work with your loved one’s primary care doctor to determine if these changes are related to the onset of dementia or another condition, like depression. In either situation, your loved one may need some support to improve their environment.
Little to no social life:
Isolation and retreat from social interactions may be signs of cognitive deterioration. Memory care facilities offer socialization opportunities and engagement programs to stimulate residents’ mental and emotional well-being.
Depression & isolation:
If you’re caring for a family member at home, creating opportunities for recreation and social connection may be difficult as their health declines.
Social isolation and loneliness may adversely affect your loved one’s wellness, increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, and other dementia behaviors, such as agitation.
Memory care communities typically have on-site activity directors who tailor social events to the specialized needs of people with dementia.
Social connections remain important as dementia progresses. Many memory care communities can be vibrant and exciting, with plenty for everyone to do, including parties, activities, and entertainment curated just for residents.
An unhealthy living environment:
Memory care facilities provide a clean and safe living environment, which is crucial for individuals with memory impairment.
A memory care facility may be better if your loved one’s home has become cluttered, unsanitary, or poses safety risks.
Difficulty managing bladder or bowel control is expected in the later stages of dementia.
Memory care facilities have trained staff who can assist residents with their personal care needs, including managing incontinence while maintaining their dignity and privacy.
Confusion and disorientation:
Patients with dementia frequently feel confused or disoriented. Accidents and other risky situations occur as a result of mental instability.
If they often imperil their safety, your loved one has to be in a memory care center. People who suffer from memory loss sometimes neglect to complete necessary duties.
Forgetting how to drive, turn off the stove, or change clothing is just a few examples. Confusion and disorientation are often the first clues that something is wrong.
It’ll likely start subtly but eventually increases. If you notice this type of behaviour, don’t ignore it.
Withdrawal from hobbies:
If your loved one has lost interest in activities they once enjoyed, such as hobbies or social gatherings, it may indicate a decline in cognitive function.
Memory care facilities offer structured programs and tailored activities to engage residents and provide a sense of purpose.
The caregiver is overwhelmed:
Providing care for someone with memory-related conditions can be physically and emotionally demanding.
If the primary caregiver is experiencing burnout, increased stress levels, or a decline in their well-being, it may be time to seek professional memory care services.
Insecure at home:
Weight loss, injuries, and trouble standing are all signs of deteriorating health.
Due to their imbalance, many Alzheimer’s patients frequently fall and break bones. Additionally, it’s a risky sign if your loved one walks away from home.
It becomes difficult to continue to protect them if they escape the house and get lost. A memory care facility, however, is designed in a way that prevents residents from leaving.
Speech and communication changes:
Let’s say your elderly relative is contacting you less regularly, or the level of those contacts has decreased. Then it is time to bring up residential memory care with them.
Similar to how hearing or visual changes can indicate a loss in health and well-being. A senior with dementia may particularly revert to childlike or infantile speech patterns.
They might stop communicating or become perplexed all the time. Simple inquiries or directions may be received with irritation, impatience, and uncontrollable or anxious laughing.
Recognizing the warning signs that someone needs memory care is crucial for ensuring their safety, well-being, and quality of life.
It is essential to closely monitor changes in behaviour, overall health, social engagement, and the caregiver’s ability to cope.
When these signs become apparent, and the challenges of providing care at home become overwhelming, it may be time to start exploring memory care facilities.
Transitioning to a memory care facility can provide individuals with specialized care, a safe environment, cognitive stimulation, and the support they need to live a fulfilling life despite memory-related conditions.