What exactly is memory care? The broad definition says that it is a specific type of long-term care tailored to meet the needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of memory deficits.
Staff, who receive dementia training, provide 24-hour supervisory and nursing care in order to monitor medical needs and activities of daily living of the residents.
Family members and caregivers of aging adults with Alzheimer’s/dementia are fully aware that symptoms are not usually the result of an immediate onset; rather, symptoms progressively worsen over any given length of time.
This progression can sometimes make it difficult to gauge if or when the elderly individual requires more help.
So, what signs are caregivers/family members looking for when it comes time to transition a person with dementia from a private home to memory care?
Aging adults with mild Alzheimer’s or dementia can typically function well at home for a time, probably with occasional assistance from family members or caregivers for more complex tasks including (but not limited to): grocery shopping, finances, medication management, cooking/meal preparation, or community access and transportation.
Moderate to severe cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia dramatically change how a person conducts the basics at home, and safety becomes the main issue. Example situations may include the following:
- Forgetting to use an ambulation device (walker, cane, etc.) to get around the house can be a serious problem if the individual has terrible standing balance.
- Wandering out of the house and not knowing how to get back
- Turning on kitchen appliances and not turning them off when finished or using them unsafely.
- Falling out of bed by simply trying to get up
- Inability to complete dressing, showering, toileting, and hygiene needs without cuing or maximum assistance from others.
- Lashing out or turning aggressive towards caregivers, making it near to impossible for them to receive help for functional tasks.
There should be massive applause for family members and caregivers who dedicate their lives to assisting persons with severe dementia so that they may reside at home. However, there are some cases where it can prove too much.
Caregivers who may have limited physical capacity or deteriorating health themselves eventually have to get help (i.e. aging spouses), and there is no shame in it.
Consider these three questions:
1.) Is the person with dementia safe in their own home or can be left alone at any time?
2.) Are there family supports in place that are successfully working to keep the person safe at home?
3.) Are home health options in place AND working?
If the answer is NO to all of these questions, then it is time to consider something like out-of-home placement or memory care.
Consult with the elderly adult’s primary physician regarding advice about continuation in living at home. The doctor may be a helpful resource in documenting current symptoms and impact on functional abilities.