When Is It Time for Memory Care?
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that there are nearly 6 million people in the U.S. living with Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia; that number is expected to increase to 14 million by the year 2050. Because of the rising number of seniors facing a type of cognitive impairment, as many as 16 million Americans currently provide unpaid care for a loved one.
While family members can often manage caring for their senior loved ones during the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, as the disease progresses, it can be safer for the senior to relocate to a residential care community.
Many families choose to move their loved one to a memory care community for the enhanced safety and specialized care from experienced caregivers. For seniors and their families who are considering a move, it is important to understand what memory care is, what the benefits are and when is the right time to make the move.
What is Memory Care?
Memory care communities are residential communities for seniors living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Dedicated memory care communities only accept residents with memory impairment, and every aspect of the community, from activities to the facility layout, is intentionally designed to benefit those with cognitive conditions.
Although memory care communities do provide a similar level of care as a senior would receive in an assisted living community, memory care offers enhanced safety measures to meet the needs of those with cognitive impairment. Seniors with dementia can greatly benefit from the specially designed environment and care provided in memory care communities. Some of the main benefits of memory care communities include:
Experienced Team Members.
Team members who work in memory care communities take part in specialized training to better enable them to meet the unique needs of seniors with memory loss.
Family members of memory care residents partner closely with team members and medical professionals to create and regularly update or adjust residents’ care plans. Because the needs of seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia can and do change quickly, having access to professional care planning can be a valuable support for family members.
The activities, entertainment and programs available in memory care communities are designed to be cognitively stimulating for those with memory impairment. Memory care communities, like Sugar Grove Senior Living, offer on-site therapy services, courtesy transportation, and social, educational and recreational activity programs.
Focus on Safety.
Memory care communities provide specialized safety features, such as community-wide emergency alert systems, to ensure the safety of seniors who may wander or have mobility challenges.
Mood disorders, mood swings and aggression are common side effects for seniors with dementia. Memory care communities frequently offer counseling to support the emotional well-being of residents.
When is it Time for Memory Care?
While many family caregivers dedicate time and energy to caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia in the early stages of the disease, it can become more difficult as symptoms progress. Transitioning from home to a memory care community can be an emotional decision. Here are some things to consider when deciding when to move to memory care:
Struggling with activities of daily living (ADLs).
Cognitive impairment causes a progressive decline in the ability to complete daily tasks, including the activities of daily living. Living independently can become increasingly dangerous for seniors with dementia who struggle with things like getting out of a chair or going to the bathroom.
In later stages of dementia, it is common for seniors with the disease to experience aggression, agitation, irritability and sundowning. Over time, these behaviors will intensify and require more care and attention. Memory care team members are trained in cognitive behavioral techniques to skillfully redirect behavior.
Delusions and hallucinations.
Seniors with dementia may also begin to experience hallucinations or delusions during the later stages of the disease; this can be stressful for loved ones and frightening, and sometimes dangerous, for a senior living alone.
Increased fall risk and wandering.
It can be hard to keep a senior with dementia safe at home if they begin to wander off. Wandering can lead to falls, injuries or becoming lost. Memory care communities have specialized safety features to prevent wandering, such as locked exits and continuous-loop walkways.
Refusal of care.
Dementia impacts the memory and can even cause seniors with the disease to forget their friends and family members. It also happens that seniors with dementia can forget they have the disease, forget what is involved in their care and forget their daily routines. Not remembering care activities can make it very difficult for family members to provide care, and it can become dangerous for the senior.
Decline in overall health.
A decline in overall physical health may be a sign it is time to move a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia into memory care. As dementia progresses, it is common to see a dramatic loss of mobility and worsening of physical health. Memory care communities have health care teams to support the overall health of residents, including dietitians, doctors and therapists.
Isolation and depression.
When caring for a senior loved one with dementia at home, it may become difficult to create opportunities for social connection and entertainment as their health continues to decline. Social isolation and loneliness can have negative effects on overall wellness and may increase the risk of depression or anxiety. Memory care communities offer on-site social events that meet the specialized needs of people with dementia.
About Sugar Grove Senior Living
Sugar Grove is a senior living community located in Plainfield, Ind. Offering independent living, assisted living, memory care and respite stay, Sugar Grove is ready to support residents and their families throughout the aging journey. All of our services focus on the total health of each resident, including:
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Emotional health
- Spiritual wellness
Want to learn more about Sugar Grove? We would love to talk to you about our care and our community, while answering any questions you may have. Contact us today!