When Does a Parent Need Memory Care?
One of the challenging issues you can face with an aging parent is helping them cope with memory issues. Memory decline or disease can cause a senior adult to make decisions that are not wise, and which may even be dangerous. This may be particularly difficult for a son or daughter who does not want to come to grips with the changes they may be seeing in their love one.
While someone with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or memory loss may be able to stay at home, the demands on caregivers for personal care and management, constant companionship, and scheduling of activities may be overwhelming and not a viable alternative. If this is the case, it may be appropriate to consider a facility which can help keep the quality of life for the parent as good as possible and provide the safety and security that they may need.
A Memory Care Facility is an alternative to living at home in an environment specifically designed for those suffering from memory issues. This type of care is usually found in assisted living facilities or nursing homes, often in a separate wing.
Symptoms that may mean your parent has Alzheimer’s or Dementia
- Forgetting who has come by or called
- Misplaces items frequently
- Not remembering to schedule or keep medical appointments
- Forgets to take medications
- Has trouble remembering names
- Not knowing what day of the week it is
- Not knowing where they are
- Can’t pay attention
- Changes in personal hygiene such as showering or bathing habits
- Inability to handle daily chores such as laundry or yard work
- Loss of interest in day to day social activities
- Withdrawal from family or friends
If your parent or loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms which are associated with memory problems or a decline in memory, then they may need a medical evaluation to assess their particular situation. While there is not a single test to see if someone has dementia, a doctor can through careful examination determine whether memory issues exist and to what degree.
Memory Disease Progression and the need for Memory Care
Alzheimer’s disease will affect people in different ways and progresses at various speeds. The average person with Alzheimer’s lives between four and eight years but may live as long as twenty years.
Mild Alzheimer’s is the first stage and you as a family member may only gradually become aware of personality changes or memory issues. No or only moderate help may be needed at this stage.
Moderate Alzheimer’s is the second stage and can last for several years. Along with forgetfulness and changes with social interactions, there may be an increased tendency to become lost and your parent will need additional help if they are to remain in their home or they may be a candidate for Memory Care which is provided by some Assisted Living Facilities.
In Late stage Alzheimer’s symptoms typically become quite severe and the affected individual may need help with all daily activities and need round-the-clock care. This is commonly provided by Skilled Nursing Facilities who have a Memory Care component or wing.
How you can help as a Caregiver
Throughout the stages of caring for someone with memory issues there are many areas where help is needed. This includes interacting with doctors, helping make decisions regarding living at home or going to a memory care facility, dispensing of medicines, financial and legal, paying for care, and of course providing comfort and security.
Needing help with care is not a weakness and accessing available resources can help you make the best decisions for your parent. One great resource is the NIA Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral Center, also known as “ADEAR”. Other resources are:
- Alzheimer’s Foundation of America – 1-866-232-8484
- Eldercare Locator – 1-800-677-1116
- National Institute on Aging Information Center – 1-800-222-2225
Don’t feel like you are alone during this difficult time for you and your love one. Take advantage of the many resources which can help you make decisions including whether or not Memory Care Facilities should be considered.