When is the Right Time for memory Care?
Are you caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, most likely this question is on your mind: When will it be time to move my loved one into a memory care community? The decision is never simple or easy.
Once diagnosed, a person might be able live independently, or with family, for some time. But sooner or later, there may come a time when that person requires more care than can be provided at home.
An instance of wandering is often the trigger that leads families to consider assisted living. Many people with dementia are prone to wandering, and they can easily get lost, fall, or become injured. When that happens, 24-hour supervision is needed to keep the person safe. Some people with Dementia experience “sundowner syndrome “— a period of agitated behavior that becomes more pronounced later in the day. Others might exhibit verbal or physical aggression. When these difficult behaviors persist, caregivers and other family members may suffer or begin to feel resentful.
Caregiver burnout is also a key factor. As the disease progresses into the late-stages, round-the-clock care requirements become more intensive. When the primary caregiver is also older, his or her health can quickly become compromised as well. Studies show that those who care for a person with dementia are more likely to experience health problems themselves, the constant stress can compromise the caregiver’s health.
Getting away is particularly important for caregivers, especially those who are seniors themselves. Caring for a person with dementia who needs assistance with activities of daily living – eating and bathing, for example – can be physically demanding. In many cases, people with dementia have difficulty sleeping, and that can mean disturbed sleep for the caregiver, too.
One intermediate solution is respite care for your loved one. For those who are looking to eventually move a family member into a memory care community permanently, respite care offers an effective way to “try out” a community.
Even if you planned for a move, moving your loved one into assisted living or memory care can trigger feelings of guilt or sadness. These feelings are common. Letting go of caregiver responsibilities is often difficult for family members. But when loved ones get the memory care and attention they need from specially trained professionals, both they and their families experience less anxiety, so they can spend more quality time together.
Here are some important questions experts suggest asking yourself to help you decide if the time is right for a move:
Is my loved one unsafe?
Are they at risk of harming themselves by falling or wandering outside? Are you concerned about your loved one’s vulnerability to getting scammed or a severe household emergency?
Is my loved one’s health at risk?
Has Dementia progressed to the point where they are very challenging for you to manage at home? Are symptoms such as paranoia, aggression, dehydration or incontinence beyond what you can manage to keep them well on your own?
Are my loved one’s needs beyond my abilities?
Has the progression of the disease made your loved one increasingly dependent on you for help with daily living activities such as eating, dressing and bathing? Do they demand more of your time than you are able to give?
Am I becoming a stressed, irritable, impatient caregiver?
Are you feeling depressed or hopeless or having trouble sleeping? Are you neglecting your work, family or yourself? Caregivers suffer from increased physical and emotional health risks brought on by the stress and exhaustion of caring for their loved one, including depression, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.
Would the care, design and social interaction benefit my loved one?
Do the advantages of a memory care assisted living community exceed the lifestyle your loved one has currently? Do you think they could experience better health, safety and happiness surrounded by trained caregivers and their peers?
These are just a few questions to think about when making the decision if your loved one is ready for memory care assisted living. Every situation is different, and you may have unique concerns that influence your decision. Don’t hesitate to talk with someone you trust or who has gone through this before. Ultimately, it narrows down to your family’s resources, needs and your loved one’s safety.