Is It Time to Consider Memory Care?
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia and is currently in assisted living, you may wonder when they should move to memory care, if at all. While it is common for seniors with dementia to live in assisted living, particularly during the early stages of the disease, there is a point when more specialized care may be needed. These signs can help you determine when it’s time to transition from assisted living to memory care.
The Difference in Assisted Living and Memory Care for Dementia
Both assisted living and memory care are types of senior living, but they are very different. Assisted living provides housing and support with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, and medication assistance. These communities offer onsite medical care, a range of amenities, and a variety of social activities and enrichment opportunities as well, all in an active environment that enhances the quality of life while promoting independence.
Memory care, on the other hand, is specifically designed to nurture those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Residents enjoy many of the same amenities as assisted living; however, these communities provide 24-hour, personalized support by staff trained in dementia care and feature a secure, comforting environment that can help your loved one thrive. For example, our engagement-focused memory care program, Vital Brain, focuses on opportunities to build cognitive strength, learn, experience new things, and practice stress reduction.
What’s more, many of our communities offer both assisted living and memory care on the same campus which makes it much easier to transition as your loved one will remain in familiar surroundings and benefit from continuity of care.
When Should Your Loved One Transition from Assisted Living to Memory Care?
Whether it’s Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia, the disease will affect everyone differently. As such, there’s not necessarily a specific timeline for how quickly or slowly your loved one will progress. While this does make it difficult to determine when your loved one should transition from assisted living to memory care, these signs can indicate that time is near:
- Their Stage – Alzheimer’s disease typically progresses through three stages: early, middle and late. In the early stages, your loved one may still be mostly independent, and while there are still benefits to memory care early on, assisted living is likely still appropriate as well. During the middle stage, more daily support may be needed, including extra time to perform tasks as well as cueing and prompting with activities, which assisted living may or may not offer depending on the community. In the late stage, the 24/7 support, specialized care, and safety measures necessary are typically beyond what assisted living can provide.
- They’re Beginning to Withdraw – Often, when a person begins to have greater difficulty communicating, they stop participating in activities and/or social events and may avoid amenities such as eating in the dining room or using the fitness center. If you notice this with your loved one and they begin to withdraw from things they previously enjoyed, this could indicate their cognitive abilities are declining.
- They Need More – You may begin to notice your loved one asking more questions, you have to repeat yourself more, they may ask you to help with things they previously did independently, or may even seem to fear being alone for any length of time. This could indicate your loved one’s environment is overwhelming them, or they are starting to feel insecure in their ability to navigate daily life without more support.
- Increased Confusion – Assisted living provides support primarily with personal care, which means residents still can manage other life tasks. However, if your loved one begins to mix up or they forget to refill medications, leaves mail unopened or neglects to pay bills, forgets appointments, loses items more often, or even loses their way in the community, they may need additional help.
- You Think They May Be Depressed – Although they may have done well in assisted living previously, as your loved one’s dementia progresses, they may begin to lose confidence if they’re struggling with daily activities, or social situations, and/or feel embarrassed if friends are noticing their forgetfulness; any of which could lead to depression which is more common than you may realize in those with dementia.
Check out our The Beginner’s Guide to Recognizing Early Signs of Dementia to learn more. Or, contact us today to schedule your virtual tour!