Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for 60% to 80% of dementia cases. If you’re one of the 16.1 million Americans providing unpaid care for someone with dementia, it’s important to know when it’s time to move a loved one into memory care – and how to prepare for the transition.
Some people worry that routine age-related changes in memory are actually signs of dementia. Occasionally forgetting words or names, or sometimes making mistakes with finances or appointments is considered normal. It’s more serious, however, when memory loss disrupts daily life, familiar tasks become difficult, or your loved one has trouble participating in a conversation. These are some of the signs that it might be time to consider memory care.
When someone has symptoms of dementia, a physician should conduct tests to determine the cause. There’s no single test, so physicians often bring in neurologists and geriatricians to use a variety of tools and approaches to make a diagnosis. It may be difficult to determine an exact cause, and it can take days or even weeks to complete the examinations and interpret the results.
Once you get a diagnosis, it’s time to figure out how to best care for your loved one. Approximately 50% of all caregivers providing help to older adults do so for someone with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. Before deciding to become, or continue to be, a primary caregiver, make sure you can take on the financial, emotional and physical responsibilities of doing so. During the early stages of Alzheimer’s, for example, your loved one may be able to live independently, but in the middle stages, they’ll need
24-hour supervision. And in the late stages, they’ll need specialized round-the-clock care.
Be honest about whether you and your family can truly provide the quality care your loved one needs. As you weigh the pros and cons of being a caregiver, you may discover that a memory care community can do more for them than you’re able to.
Finding excellent memory care is getting easier all the time. Options include memory care-only communities, memory care as part of an assisted living community, or a Life Plan Community in which they can transition from assisted living into memory care. A whole-person focus, meaningful programming and family support are hallmarks of good care.
Print and take this Memory Care Visit Checklist with you on visits to communities that offer memory care. This is a difficult, emotional decision, so this checklist will help you know what to look for and what kinds of questions to ask.
Whether your loved one is transitioning from assisted living to memory care within a community, or is relocating from home, the change may be difficult for them. It’s vital that you help the memory care staff understand what your loved one is typically like, so they can recognize and address any changes due to the relocation.
There are some things you can do to help ease the transition:
- Involve your loved one in the process as much as they’re able to participate.
- Let them ask questions and answer honestly.
- Maintain daily routines as much as possible.
- Have their new room set up with familiar personal items such as photos, artwork and furniture.
- On moving day, follow their routine as much as possible, and try to make the move during their best time of day.
- Stay in touch and visit them often. Participating in family activities and events can be a pleasant experience for everyone, while helping your loved one feel connected to familiar people.
Doing due diligence and being prepared for the transition will help you find the right care for your loved one, and help the whole family adjust a little easier.
To start searching for a memory care community, use our community locator tool.