In the United States today, more than 6 million people are living with Alzheimer’s disease, one of the most prevalent forms of dementia. Often, the early symptoms of dementia are signs that it’s time for memory care. But too often, they’re dismissed as just aging. You may notice your dad repeating things or mishandling his bills and money. You might notice that mom forgets what she had for breakfast or can’t remember her own address.
In many cases though, these early signs are precursors to more serious behaviors and physical symptoms. As dementia advances, there can be confusion and disorientation, which can create safety and well-being issues for a loved one. There’s often a marked decline in physical health, increasing incontinence, or a growing lack of attention to personal hygiene.
If you notice any of these types of changes, you’re most likely witnessing real signs that it’s time for memory care. This is a good time to consult with your loved one’s physician, who can perform some standard geriatric acuity tests and other evaluations to determine what stage of dementia your loved one may be facing.
What is Memory Care?
In simplest terms, memory care is a type of senior living where people with memory issues are cared for in a specialized, structured manner with a high level of attention and support.
Not every individual with memory issues immediately needs memory care. People with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia may, in the early stages, be quite capable of remaining independent for some period of time. They may still live at home with some assistance from family. Or they may move to assisted living to get extra help with personal care tasks, and enjoy helpful amenities like dining services and housekeeping services, along with activities and a “built-in” social life.
Memory care, on the other hand, is geared for people with mid- to late-stage forms of dementia. At this point, it becomes imperative to provide a safe, structured environment. In memory care, the staff is specially trained to support residents’ need for set routines and provide higher-level assistance to help residents safely navigate their day.
Staff members are also responsible for planning and executing structured daily activities that help keep residents’ minds and bodies engaged as much as possible. As with assisted living, memory care staff also assists with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as toileting, dressing, etc. All meals are provided, and staff is there to help residents eat and stay tidy when needed.
Specific Signs It’s Time for Memory Care
If your gut is telling you that something isn’t quite right with your loved one, trust your feelings and make an appointment with their physician or a geriatric specialist for further evaluation. The following signs indicate it’s likely time to move your loved one to memory care:
- Behavioral Changes: Some people with dementia may start acting in dramatically different ways. Watch for behaviors such as:
- Declining social invitations
- Not caring about their appearance or hygiene
- Forgetting to bathe, comb hair, put on makeup, etc.
- Becoming withdrawn/anti-social
- Suddenly apprehensive about driving
- Displaying unusual anxiety and/or agitation
- Making excuses for increasing forgetfulness or inability to perform common tasks
- Losing track of days and times
- Wandering and reversing sleep cycles (sleeping days/up all night)
- Sudden and increasing poor driving skills (this is the time to take away the keys)
- Physical Decline: Physical changes are often the first noticeable differences when someone has dAlzheimer’s or another form of dementia Watch for declines such as:
- Rapid unexplained weight loss and/or increasing frailty (likely forgetting to eat and/or take medications)
- Increasing inability to manage medications (risk of overdose)
- Increasing inability to shop for groceries and prepare food
- Hunched or sunken posture
- Increasing inability to read/comprehend signage, articles, notes, etc.
- Increasing confusion of where things are located at home/forgetting where they live
- Caregiver Stress: It may seem like the most caring thing to do is keep a loved one with dementia at home. But the hard truth is that high-level professional attention is actually much better for their health and safety. With advanced dementia come challenges such as incontinence, wandering, and agitation that can sometimes lead to physically lashing out, among other difficult behaviors. These should be precious times when it’s important to have meaningful, loving experiences with a loved one, rather than serving as their full-time nurse.
We Offer the Compassionate Care You Want for Your Loved One
Here’s the bottom line: If you live in or near Phoenix, Arizona, excellent supportive memory care is close by at Sagewood. You owe it to yourself and your loved one to explore the outstanding professional services we provide within a welcoming neighborhood-like setting. It’s easy to learn more. Simply fill out our contact form and we’ll be in touch shortly.