For most diseases, the signs and symptoms develop in a short time which can push us to seek medical attention right away. But, for progressive age-related cognitive decline caused by Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be difficult to know when to find help for a loved one. This is because the symptoms may develop over a long period for some, while they may be more acute for others. Studies have shown that there are massive positive impacts of memory care on people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. So, when do you know it is the right time to move your loved one to a memory care facility?
Memory Care Facilities, What Are They?
Memory care facilities are long-term care facilities designed to cater to people with memory issues that are often associated with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and old age in some cases. These facilities provide a set schedule and a conducive environment to help and support their residents. They also have programs in place to slow down the mental decline caused by these conditions, thereby helping improve the mental and physical wellbeing of their residents. Even when your loved one has had a professional caregiver by their side, there comes a time when they need to move to a memory care facility. The following signs are a good indicator of when that is.
If Everyday Activities Become Harder
For most people, activities like bathing, dressing, or going for a walk do not present any challenges. However, as dementia or Alzheimer’s progresses, a loved one might have a hard time living independently. They will need reminding to do things like showering, and if they do not have someone there with them, their hygiene can deteriorate and present further health complications.
Additionally, their home might become unsafe for them if they do not remember where they left certain items. For example, a book placed at the edge of a table might not be an issue for many people, but it could be a tripping hazard for an older loved one.
Caregivers can withstand a lot. They understand that taking care of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s is challenging, but they can handle it. However, as the disease progresses, things can become a lot more challenging which introduces a lot of stress into their lives.
Loved ones in the later stages of these diseases often require more medical assistance or assistance with things they used to handle themselves. This increase in responsibility and the number of tasks and things to do can lead to situations where a part-time caregiver becomes a full-time one. In addition to straining the caregiver, this can have negative effects on other parts of their lives. When this point is reached, it is time to consider memory care.
Little to No Social Life
Many people with dementia or Alzheimer’s have a declined level of social life. This can lead to loneliness and depression which can make their conditions worse. In addition to qualified caregivers, 24/ attention, and on-site medical care, memory care facilities also have a rich social life. Memory care facilities understand that a vibrant social life can reduce feelings of isolation, loneliness, and depression and this is why they plan daily activities, creative outlets for their residents, and supervised excursions.
Decline in Overall Health
As the effects of memory loss become more pronounced, people with dementia lose the ability to drive, prepare food, go shopping, remember to take their medications or to eat. All of these can lead to a decline in their overall health. Also, losing track of time, days and night can interfere with their circadian rhythm which can lead to insomnia and other sleep disorders. All of these can affect a loved one’s health and well-being.
Physical signs to look for include massive weight loss, evidence of not taking medication, no food in the fridge, poor personal hygiene, poor posture, missed doctor appointments, and unexplainable injuries, bruises, or breaks.
Changes in Behavior or Personality
While changes in behavior and personality are to be expected in people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, a sudden shift in either or both could mean the disease is progressing much faster than you thought. They may become aggressive, abusive, or violent when they never used to be so in the past.
Increases in Instances of Disorientation and Confusion
Dementia and Alzheimer’s can cause disorientation and confusion which can occur from time to time. However, if the frequency of episodes of disorientation and confusion increases, that is a sign that a loved one needs specialized care. This is more so in cases where their disorientation and confusion put them in physical danger, where they often drive, live alone, or live in a dangerous neighborhood.
Alzheimer’s, Dementia or Other Diagnoses
While many people would prefer to wait until the care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia is too much for them, there are also several benefits to moving your loved one to a memory care facility as soon as a diagnosis is made.
By transitioning to a memory care facility as early as possible, steps can be made to slow the progress of the disease while allowing your loved one to become familiar with the surroundings they will be spending a lot of time in. It also allows your loved one to form connections and relationships with residents and staff. These will come in very handy later when they need more help than they require at the moment.
It is always a good idea to start researching different facilities to see what they offer and how they handle people at different stages of disease progression. Your research will yield a lot of information that you can use in the future to help a loved one.
While most people would not like to move their loved ones to a memory care facility, there are instances where it is necessary. These include instances where a loved one or a professional caregiver is no longer able to cater to your loved one’s needs or they have become a danger to themselves.