Memory loss is often seen as a normal part of aging and that’s true to a certain extent. Who hasn’t lost their keys or forgotten an appointment once in a while, at any age? That’s why normal age-related memory loss shouldn’t prevent anyone from enjoying a full life. However, if memory loss has started to affect your loved one’s ability to live independently, to maintain a social life or to care for themselves, it may be time to look closer at the cause, and the three signs it’s time to consider a memory care facility.
Memory Loss Isn’t Always Alzheimer’s
In reality, Alzheimer’s disease is only one type of dementia, although it is the most prevalent type. Dementia is not a disease in and of itself; it’s actually an umbrella term for symptoms associated with a decline in thinking, reasoning and/or memory that impairs your ability to perform daily activities.
Dementia is NOT a normal part of aging and is actually caused by damage to brain cells with different types affecting different parts of the brain.
Symptoms of dementia can vary, but according to WebMD, typically at least two of these functions must be significantly impaired:
- Communication and speech
- Focus and concentration
- Reasoning and judgement
- Visual perception such as the ability to see color differences or to detect movement
There are a range of conditions that can cause symptoms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, and Lewy body dementia. While many dementia are permanent, start slowly and progress over time, some can be reversed such as those caused by:
- Medication side effects
- Minor head trauma or injury
- Stress, anxiety or depression
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
- A tumor or infection in the brain
That’s why early diagnosis is so important.
Three Signs It’s Time for a Memory Care Facility
Once you know the cause of memory loss, it’s a bit easier to know what to expect – and what you might need – going forward. But ultimately, determining that your loved one needs more care than can be provided at home is a decision only your family can make. There are however, signs that it may be time for memory care. Examples include:
1. Safety Issues
Has your loved one begun to wander, confuse night and day, struggle to use appliances safely, and in general, lose their judgement to make safe choices? Also, are they getting lost more frequently when leaving the house, and/or locking the keys in the car or house?
2. Health Issues
Is your loved one exhibiting aggressive behaviors, having problems with incontinence, decreasing mobility, inexplicable weight loss or gain, more frequently making medication errors or forgetting to bathe?
3. Emotional State
Does your loved one seem depressed or isolated, do they have enough social stimulation, are they exposed to activities to strengthen cognitive functioning? Do caregivers know how to appropriately respond to agitation? Is your loved one’s life as rich and full as it could be, despite their illness?
Memory Care Facilities Defined
Perhaps you’ve decided your loved one does need more care than can be provided at home. But what exactly is memory care?
A memory care facility is specifically designed to nurture those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with 24-hour supervised care. They feature specially trained staff that provides individualized support in a safe environment with opportunities for your loved one to find purpose and joy.
In a memory care facility you can typically expect:
- A private or companion apartment
- Meals and snacks
- Medication management
- Personal care
- Cognitive and physical therapy
- Fitness programs
- Social activities
- Housekeeping and laundry services
Keep in mind that memory care facilities are not always stand alone, they may also be found on the same campus as assisted living which can be helpful as your loved one’s care needs evolve.
Our new guide, The Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing Early Signs of Dementia, will help you identify whether or not your loved one may have dementia, and explore memory care senior living options to ensure your loved one gets the right care. Download it here.