For those diagnosed or taking care of a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, time now moves at a different pace. As the rest of the world keeps its once familiar stride, your life is now measured with the many changes brought on by this disease.
As the condition progresses, the decline can be alarming, especially for those involved intermittently or from a distance. Yet if you’re the daily caregiver, you may not always notice the depth of deterioration. Instead of relying only on emotion, you can greatly decrease your anxiety by knowing when the transition from home care to a memory care community should occur.
Although the idea of a loved one no longer able to live at home can be upsetting, families often don’t realize how much help and positive change the right community can bring – until they’ve experienced it themselves.
A doctor or other medical provider can help you make this decision but there are also some commonplace signs you may notice. Families aware of what to look for can prepare themselves to take the necessary next steps, which can help the transition go much smoother.
When is Memory Care Needed? 5 Signs That it Might be Time:
1. You Notice a Marked Change in Behavior
Behavioral changes can sometimes bring about a contrast in personality. Examples include someone who always made a point of looking and dressing impeccably may now forget to bathe or wear clean clothes. A once outgoing person may start to self-isolate and stay at home, avoiding others, even family. Your financially conservative father may begin giving money away to strangers on the phone.
2. There Seems to be Growing Confusion
You may notice they’re becoming more easily disoriented. If still driving, they may not stop at a red light or will suddenly feel that they are lost. Familiar places and tasks become foreign. They may begin walking away from home and not know how to get back or recognize where they are. Trouble having conversations, putting things in unusual places or accusing others of stealing objects they’ve misplaced can become common occurrences.
3. Their Physical Health is Deteriorating
Weight loss could mean they’re forgetting to go to the grocery store. Weight gain can be the result of not remembering they’ve already eaten and so they have another meal. Missing their medication regularly or forgetting if they took it can cause them to double the dose or skip it altogether. Incontinence can arise, adding even more distress to both the individual and the caregiver.
4. The Caregiver’s Ability to Provide Home Care is Decreasing
If the caregiver is in poor health or growing older, the physical and emotional stamina required to continue care at home can become overwhelming. If falls or wandering are occurring more often or you find yourself in a never-ending cycle of anxiety and worry about their health or safety, it’s time to consider getting outside help.
5. Your Instincts Tell You it’s Time
When caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s and you end each day a little more tired or discouraged, your intuition may begin telling you something. Even on the better days when you hold on to what seemed like a little improved behavior, there’s often a distressing feeling that you’ll both soon need more help than you can provide. Trust those instincts and reach out.
Help for Making a More Unbiased Decision
When we’re caught in between what we don’t want to face and the reality of the situation, we need clarity and support. Asking yourself and your family these questions may help you better understand if the time for memory support is indeed here.
6 Questions to Ask and Answer
- Is home still a safe place for the individual and caretaker to live?
- Are behavior changes beginning to make life more difficult?
- What does the person want or feel about staying at home?
- What are the opinions of other family members, caregivers or doctors?
- Are there resources to help the person stay at home that hasn’t yet been tried?
- If you were that person, what would you want?
Don’t Wait to Get the Help You Need
Family members often continue at-home care because of misplaced guilt or a promise to keep their loved one at home. These promises are usually made before there is a need and they can be noble. But with dementia or Alzheimer’s, they rarely can be kept. Sometimes it helps to look at this from the point of view of those suffering from the disease. They may no longer be able to decide for themselves but are relying on you to make sure they have the best care possible. Keeping them at home because of guilt or a past promise isn’t necessarily fair to them. Many who have traveled the road before you have learned these lessons the hard way. You simply cannot do this alone. We understand that you promised to take care of them. And that’s a promise we will help you keep.
Learn about Ingleside’s Well-Being Philosophy and why it is at the heart of helping every individual in the memory support programs flourish by supporting our founding principles. Listen to our Director of Memory Programming Pamela Mills speak to our person-directed care based on this philosophy.