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From the Neighborhood Press

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When Is It Time for Memory Care?

Understanding when it’s time for our loved one to transition into memory care is crucial in providing them with the support and compassion they deserve during their golden years. But how do you know when it’s time? 

It may be time for memory care when the safety, health, and emotional well-being of your loved one can no longer be fully supported at home. A memory care community is a chance for your loved one to thrive and enjoy fun activities in a space designed for them

Understanding Dementia & Alzheimer’s

Dementia is not a single disease but a collective term for conditions characterized by cognitive decline. The exact shape of the decline can depend on the type—and there are many to watch out for. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common types, accounting for around 60–80% of dementia cases.

While symptoms can vary since dementia impacts everyone differently, they typically relate to trouble with memory, language, and processing skills. For many people, memory problems are the signature dementia indicator, which can cause undue stress if an older person starts to forget things.

It’s important to note that some age-related forgetfulness is perfectly normal. Frustrating? Perhaps. But, misplacing something briefly or having trouble recalling a word for a few seconds isn’t necessarily a sign of cognitive decline. Dementia’s symptoms can severely impact daily life, eventually making it impossible to live without some level of assistance.

Signs of dementia may include:

  • Difficulty recalling old memories
  • Forgetting the name of a close family member or friend
  • Becoming lost in a familiar place
  • Losing track of recent events
  • Referring to everyday objects with strange words
  • Difficulty completing essential daily tasks
  • Changes in mood or personality

Recognizing these signs early can be crucial in managing the condition and planning for the future.

Considering Memory Care

Moving to memory care is a decision that involves evaluating several factors and conversations within the family. You should involve your loved one in this discussion, as they’ll be affected the most by it. This decision is rooted in love and the desire to provide what is best for both the caregiver and the loved one experiencing dementia. And, ultimately, the correct time depends on your loved one’s unique needs.

There’s no firm checklist of when it’s time for memory care. You can talk to your doctor, but some signs that may indicate your loved one needs additional support include:

  • Increased frequency of memory lapses: When forgetfulness becomes pervasive and interferes with daily functioning, causing missed medications, appointments, and other important tasks.
  • Safety concerns: Wandering, leaving the stove on, or other risky behaviors that could lead to harm.
  • Difficulty with activities of daily living: Challenges in managing self-care routines, such as bathing, dressing, and eating.
  • Changes in behavior and personality: Significant shifts in mood, behavior, or personality, including increased agitation, aggression, or depression.
  • Social withdrawal: A noticeable withdrawal from social activities or interests that were previously enjoyed, leading to isolation.
  • Specialized health care: Your loved one’s health care exceeds what family members can manage, especially when they need specialized medical attention or therapies.

Memory care communities have specially trained staff and precisely designed layouts so people with dementia can have the freedom they deserve with the security they require.

Watch for Caregiver Burnout

Providing care for a loved one with dementia is an act of love and deep devotion. However, it carries with it significant challenges. Caregivers often experience emotional stress, physical strain, and financial burdens. Over time, the relentless pace and emotional intensity of caregiving can lead to burnout.

Burnout is more than simply feeling tired, it’s a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. You may feel overwhelmed, fatigued, and it may be difficult to maintain your level of caregiving toward your loved one. It’s vital to acknowledge these challenges and seek support when needed.

A close up of an adult woman holding hands with an older woman
How to Choose a Memory Care Community

Moving a loved one to a memory care community is a significant change for both your family and the person with dementia. Preparation is key. Start by having conversations with your family about the decision. When choosing a memory care community, consider not just the quality of care but the warmth and compassion of the environment—will your loved one feel at home?

Start by visiting various communities together, if possible, to find the best fit. Discuss the move openly, focusing on positive aspects like specialized care, safety, and fun opportunities for socialization. Additionally, ensure legal and financial affairs are in order. Preparing for this transition can be an emotional process, so allow space for feelings and questions.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing a memory care community:

  • Staff expertise and ratio: Ask if staff are trained in dementia care and look for an adequate staff-to-resident ratio.
  • Safety and security: The community should have measures in place to ensure residents’ safety while still letting them enjoy their lives.
  • Activities and engagement: Look for a range of activities that can accommodate your loved one’s interests and needs.
  • Healthcare support: Comprehensive healthcare services such as on-site nurses and regular exams with doctors can provide peace of mind for you and your loved one.
  • Housekeeping services: These services typically include laundry, cleaning of personal living spaces, and maintenance tasks.
  • Dining and Nutrition: Memory care dining services offer nutritious, balanced meals tailored to each resident’s dietary needs.

Making the Move to Memory Care

If you or someone you know is considering memory care, we invite you to reach out and schedule a tour with Sommerset Neighborhood. We can’t wait to show you our lifestyle and how, together, we can provide the care, support, and community your loved one needs to enjoy a dignified life.

An adult daughter embracing her senior mother while they both smile

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