5 Signs Your Loved One May Need Memory Care

Deciding to move a loved one from their home or assisted living community into memory care is a difficult one. Having a transition plan for Alzheimer’s and dementia care can make the process smooth, efficient, and less scary for everyone, including the person suffering. Part of this transition plan is knowing the signs of these cognitive conditions worsening, and deciding at what point symptoms can no longer be managed without specialized care. But how do you know when it’s time for memory care?

What is Memory Care?

Memory care for seniors is specialized care designed for older adults suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease, but a general term to describe a wide range of symptoms severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and the most common cause of dementia. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), to be eligible for memory care, “(an) older adults must have a diagnosis of dementia and a need for around-the-clock supervision.”

What is the Difference Between Memory Care and Assisted Living?

While similar to assisted living communities, memory care communities offer additional services and safety precautions, such as secured outdoor areas and locked doors to prevent residents from wandering away. Like assisted living, memory care usually includes amenities like regular housekeeping, three nutritious meals a day, assistance with activities of daily living, also known as ADLS, like grooming or bathing, and some form of nursing care.

While assisted living communities offer nursing assistance, nurses caring for individuals with dementia are required to undergo regular training on abuse prevention and proper care. Special activities are also incorporated into the daily routine of those in memory care, including cognitive games and reminiscence therapy.

Now that we know the differences between these two care types, when is it time to move our loved ones from assisted living to memory care?

Signs it’s Time to Move Your Loved One to Memory Care

#1 Poor Hygienic Habits

Declining hygiene can be the first and most important sign of cognitive decline in seniors with memory issues. From bathing to clothing to the condition of their home, an inability to take care of basic hygienic tasks may mean more care is needed. But this, coupled with other declines, may mean it’s time to transition to skilled nursing care and housekeeping that comes with memory care.

#2 Safety is a Concern

This can include safety to oneself and to others. Self-destructive behaviors usually seen with dementia include difficulty with or forgetting to eat and drink, a lack of sleep, weight loss and/or gain or general confusion that causes wandering and can lead to injury. According to Frontiers in Neurology, cognitive decline associated with dementia can also lead to behavioral and psychological symptoms like “agitation, aberrant motor behavior, anxiety, elation, irritability, depression, apathy, disinhibition, delusions, hallucinations, and sleep or appetite changes.” These symptoms also correlate with greater caregiver burden, known to reduce caregiver quality of life. Enrolling your loved one in memory care ensures a safe environment with around-the-clock care that allows loved ones to return to their role as a loved one instead of a caretaker.

#3 Difficulty Socializing

Seniors suffering from dementia may withdraw over time or communicate less as they find it more difficult to do. This withdrawal can lead to depression or apathy. Many memory care communities offer planned social engagement and physical exercise, which many studies indicate lower the risk of or slow cognitive decline.

#4 They Lose Track of the Passage of Time

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 40% of individuals over 65 deal with age-associated memory loss. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 5% to 8% of people over the age of 60 will live with dementia at some point. There is a difference, however, between the two. Those experiencing age-associated memory loss are still able to care for themselves, complete tasks and learn new things. People with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia lose track of dates, seasons, the passage of time and often forget where they are. If memory loss becomes this severe, memory care may be necessary for your loved one’s well-being.

#5 Loss of Interest in Activities

Depression and apathy are common conditions associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia, which can stem from any number of things – depression over the diagnoses, social isolation, side effects from certain medications and general confusion being leading factors. Commonly, people suffering from these illnesses experience hopelessness or a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.  Memory care communities can help treat these issues through many different methods, including psychology or “talking therapy”.

At Heritage Pointe, we provide the uplifting, engaging lifestyle and around-the-clock care your loved one needs and you want. With us, days are filled with joyful moments to ensure Residents still have opportunities to lead enriching lives, filled with the happiness —  and smiles —  simple pleasures can bring. Learn more about our memory care by visiting our website.