The holidays offer time to look more closely at the memory care needs of loved ones.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 11 million family members across the U.S. currently care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. For most, deciding when to move that loved one to memory care can be a significant, overwhelming but beneficial decision.
“The earlier someone with memory impairment moves to memory care, the easier it will be to acclimate to the transition. Hopefully, they can cognitively understand the move and accept it in a more willing way,” said Jessica Martinez, Memory Care Nurse Manager at Wesley Bradley Park.
The transition to a memory care community is best when the individual is still able to recognize family members, learn new routines and display some measure of independence. This transition allows for better communication, resident awareness of the new environment and a gradual approach to therapies and outcomes. Early relocation can also ease the burden and potential resentment from a family caregiver who may not be prepared to address higher levels of care.
But how do we know when it’s the right time?
The holiday season often brings families together for the first time in months. This is especially true this year as casual multigenerational gatherings have been on hold in an effort to reduce exposure to COVID-19. As we gather again, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs our older family members and friends may need help.
One sign that a loved one’s dementia may have advanced is changes in behavior. A once-independent individual may appear more anxious and cautious than previously. This can take many forms, from a reluctance to drive or a sudden quickness to anger or agitation.
“The most important reason to choose memory care for your loved one is for their safety, especially if they start wandering or you have fears of their elopement from their home,” said Jessica. “Is mom or dad becoming more reclusive and not wanting to participate in family activities? Are they wearing the same clothes daily and not showering as often as they used to? Do you see piles of paperwork around the home?”
These changes are often the result of confusion that your loved one may be reluctant to articulate. They may be worried they will cause concern for their adult children. But not acknowledging these lapses can lead to harmful situations, such as driving and forgetting where they are or how to drive. This puts your loved one and others in peril.
Dementia can be accompanied by a physical decline. A change in physical appearance may be a sign of lapses in eating and forgetfulness in taking medication. These lapses, too, can be indications that the caregiver, especially a spouse, may be struggling to maintain a daily regimen for the couple.
Said Jessica, “Delaying moving your loved one to memory care actually causes families more stress. Often, I encounter an overall resistance from family to all care. They’ve been taking care of their spouse, mom or dad; why can’t they keep doing it? And the potential new resident doesn’t trust the entire process. The resident feels their family is taking everything from them and that they don’t have a choice anymore.”
Families should remember, “Placing your loved one in a community does not minimize your role as a caregiver. You are simply allowing a professional to support your loved one’s care needs while you continue to love and care for them,” said Laura Wayman, the Dementia Whisperer.
At Wesley communities, the security and comfort of the new resident are always the top priority.
“It is so important to have peace of mind knowing your loved one is in a secure setting. They are free to walk around, and you know there is 24/7 nursing supervision. Family members can visit often, live their lives and not worry about mom or dad wandering off,” said Jessica.
“We’ve gotten to know the staff, residents and their families through activities and family meals,” said a family member. “You come to think of them as more than staff, but as family.”
As you spend time with family, consider these questions: Are your parents still safe living independently? Could their present behavior actually harm themselves or others? What is the impression of other friends and family who may not see them as often? Finally, is your family prepared to continue to watch your loved one decline as they age in place? Or would they be better served in a supportive environment like a Wesley memory care residence?
If you would like more information about memory care at any Wesley community, visit our memory care page or fill out the form below to contact us.
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