Dementia is a tricky disease. Its progression is different for everyone and it can progress the course of years or months. Its symptoms are different for everyone and include personality changes, memory loss, and disorientation. Family members can try to care for their loved ones with dementia, but sometimes it becomes too much to care for them at home. When that happens, a memory care community is a great option to help your loved ones live their best life.
Memory Care vs. Assisted Living vs. Independent Living
There are three levels of care available in the senior care world: independent living, assisted living, and memory care. Independent living is for seniors who are able to live on their own in an apartment or house, but who want the conveniences of living within a community that provides services such as housekeeping, planned social activities, dining, transportation, security, or the option of assistance with daily tasks. Many independent living communities have assisted living and memory care units and can step their residents up into the additional levels of care as needed.
Assisted living communities are designed for seniors who need more help with the tasks required in day-to-day life. These communities are not specifically designed for the specialized needs of seniors with dementia, but do provide help with daily medication management, basic household maintenance, planned social activities, and transportation, among other services and amenities depending on the facility.
Memory care facilities provide specialized care for seniors struggling with dementia. They have an emphasis on safety that ensures that memory care residents are unable to wander off without supervision. While other care options provide planned social activities, memory care facilities take a proactive approach to socialization with the knowledge that dementia also robs seniors of their executive functioning skills and ability to socialize on their own.
Signs It’s Time for Memory Care
It can be a hard decision to put your loved one with dementia in a memory care community. You may have made a promise to keep them at home. You may not want to put them in a care facility before it’s time. But dementia care is best left to professionals who can help your family member stay engaged and happy throughout their disease progression. When thinking about the transition to residential care, here are some things to think about.
- Is your health deteriorating? As a caregiver, your health is as important as your family members. The physical and emotional demands of providing dementia care to a family member are huge. If you are suffering from burnout, no matter how minor you may think it is, your ability to provide a high level of care also suffers. Memory care communities are staffed by specially trained professionals who are uniquely qualified to provide the highest level of senior care for those with dementia.
- Does your loved one’s dementia include more symptoms than memory loss? There are many forms of dementia, all of which include symptoms other than memory loss. These symptoms can make it hard for your family member to take their medication appropriately, create nutritious meals for themselves, or find their way home after a walk. These symptoms make it very hard to provide sufficient care services for your loved one outside of a care facility.
- Has your loved one had a marked decline in their personal hygiene? One sure sign that your loved one is ready for 24-hour memory care is they forget the basic necessities of daily care. Are they forgetting to bathe? Have they stopped brushing their teeth? Are they unshaven when normally they keep everything neat and trimmed? A decline in hygiene can signal they’ve forgotten these things in their daily routine, or they’ve forgotten how to perform these activities and are too embarrassed to ask. Memory care residents are given help with these daily activities so they can continue to lead social, full lives.
- Are they behind on their bills or shown they are susceptible to scams? It’s not uncommon to forget to pay a bill every now and then. But if you come across multiple past due notices or if your loved one has had utilities cut off, it may be time for them to move to a memory care facility. Additionally, there are many scammers who specifically target seniors with memory problems as they may not notice the warning signs of a scam.
- Do you have concerns for their safety when you’re not around? Seniors with dementia have a higher incidence of car accidents if they are still behind the wheel. They are more susceptible to falls as there’s the chance they lose their habitual knowledge of their own home. They also may not be able to tell you when or how bad the fall was. They are more likely to get lost when they leave their home.
There are many memory care options in Portland. It’s important to do your research and visit the ones that stand out to you to make sure your loved one is receiving the care they need to enjoy their years, no matter what.