Assisted living can be a great fit for many seniors, but if your loved one is beginning to show signs of dementia, it may be time to move them into a community that can offer memory-focused care.
The resources within your loved one’s assisted living community will be a factor in deciding when the right time is to transition, but there are other signs to help guide your decision. If you notice your loved one wandering and getting lost, frequently forgetting things (beyond age-related memory loss), changing their eating habits, and that they have difficulty socializing, these could all be indications that it’s time to consider memory care.
There are often varying levels of care available in senior living communities. Retiring in a community that offers these various types of care can prevent a senior from needing to relocate if they develop greater needs because of a condition like dementia or cognitive decline.
Who Are Senior Living Communities For?
To understand the signs of when it’s time for a transition between these 2 types of senior communities, let’s quickly review what each type typically offers and who the ideal residents are.
Activities of daily living (ADLs) is a term first coined in 1950 to describe the fundamental skills that healthy adults require to care for themselves safely and effectively. ADLs include things such as bathing, eating, or getting around.
Assisted living may become a good option when a senior cannot keep up with their ADLs. Some older adults opt to hire a professional caregiver to come to their family home if they aren’t ready to transition into a community.
But a senior community offers the benefit of as much independence as possible while maintaining good social connections and having a team of caregivers to assist in their daily life.
Memory care services typically resemble assisted living in many ways, such as a senior having a team of caregivers that assists them with their ADLs. Some notable differences of memory care may include:
- Caregivers will ensure that residents are eating during their regular meal times, as those with dementia will often forget to eat. Additionally, a memory care community often offers specific menu items to support seniors with dementia
- The design of the community is a comfortable and easy-to-navigate space meant to support those with dementia. Outdoor common areas are typically secured so that residents can enjoy the outdoors without being in danger of wandering off or getting lost.
- Activities or events are often provided for residents to improve their cognitive function and help build social relationships.
Signs It’s Time for the Move From Assisted Living to Memory Care
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to when a senior should transition between assisted living and memory care. As a caregiver or a family member, you may notice a few signs in your loved one that signal it may be time to offer them additional support.
Signs to consider may include:
- Wandering aimlessly and getting lost.
- Trying to leave the community—sometimes, a senior may go so far as to begin packing bags.
- Begins showing signs of aggression.
- Trouble socializing and maintaining relationships.
- Getting confused easily.
- Frequent forgetfulness that goes beyond normal age-related forgetfulness.
- Forgetting to eat or not wanting to eat.
- Drastic changes in behavior or personality.
Another benefit of being a part of a senior community is that professional caregivers often have the experience to see these signs and help residents and their loved ones make the right decision.
The Bottom Line
In some assisted living communities, things like memory loss (even advanced), forgetting to eat, or wandering may be acceptable needs that the care team is qualified to deal with. But ultimately, their caregivers, doctors, and family need to consider your loved one’s quality of life and safety.
If transitioning into a memory care community will allow your loved one to live as fulfilling a life as possible in safety, it’s likely that it’s time to transition or start making a plan to transition.
Finding the Right Community
The choice of where to retire is one of life’s big decisions. When making this choice, it pays to look to the future. For example, finding a community that can support your life and health through several potential stages of aging, right up to memory care.
If you’re considering retirement in Oklahoma City, come see us at Sommerset Neighborhood. Our compassionate team is happy to answer all your questions, book you a community tour, and help you and your loved ones make an informed decision.