It’s not the conversation adult children look forward to having with an aging parent. Nor is it one many of us feel well-prepared to have. The topic? Deciding when someone we love needs memory care.
Yet knowing when someone needs memory care due to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia may be among the most important and compassionate discussions we can have with our family members. And determining when someone needs memory care before the disease progresses and becomes a crisis is equally crucial.
First, it’s helpful to learn 10 common signs that indicate when someone needs memory care. Then, once you start your research for a memory care community or other type of long-term care for a loved one with dementia, you may find it helpful to use the checklist we’ve provided below.
10 warning signs of memory loss
The Alzheimer’s Association lists ten warning signs and symptoms of memory loss that could suggest Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. While your loved one may not exhibit all ten signs, the association strongly encourages people not to ignore any of these symptoms, and to schedule an appointment with a doctor once any of these signs become noticeable.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life. This includes forgetting recently learned information, important dates or events, or asking the same questions repeatedly.
- Misplacing items and not being able to retrace steps. We all lose things, but most of us are able to retrace our steps to find the item. Someone with Alzheimer’s may be unable to go back to where they were because they can’t remember, or they place the item someplace unusual (such as putting their wallet in the freezer) – consequently, they may accuse someone else of stealing the item.
- Challenges in planning or problem-solving. There may be changes in your loved one’s ability to follow a plan or work with numbers. Or they struggle to follow a recipe or keep track of monthly bills – both things they never had trouble with before.
- Trouble completing familiar tasks. This includes having issues driving to a location they know very well or have visited many times before, like the grocery store or library. They may also struggle with creating a grocery list, or they keep forgetting the rules to a game they know well.
- Decreased or poor judgment. Your finance-conscious family member may begin to use questionable judgment when dealing with money, or your usually dapper loved one may not be paying as much attention to their personal hygiene and overall personal care as they once did.
- Confusion with time or place. Your loved one may lose track of the seasons, the passage of time, or may forget dates. They may not remember how they got somewhere or forget where they are.
- Recent problems with writing or speaking. These issues include having trouble following or joining a conversation, or struggling to find a word for a familiar object.
- Retreating from social activities. This often goes hand in hand with difficulty speaking. Once the person starts to struggle to hold a conversation, they may pull back from family gatherings, hobbies or social outings.
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships. Vision problems can be a sign of Alzheimer’s and could lead to issues with balance or problems reading. Your loved one may be having difficulty driving or may have even had recent car accidents.
- Mood or personality changes. Perhaps your normally cheerful, upbeat loved one has become depressed, anxious or fearful. Or they’ve become more confused, suspicious or easily upset.
You might be thinking that some of these signs are just typical age-related changes – and you’d be right. However, there’s a significant difference between forgetting a word and being unable to hold a conversation. Or between forgetting to pay a bill one month and neglecting to pay bills for months and receiving shut-off notices.
Those examples may be signs of memory loss and may suggest it’s time to start considering a memory care facility. If you’re ready to start your search, here are five things senior living experts say you should look for in a memory care community. As you read through the checklist, you may find it helpful to compare what experts recommend to what Abbey Delray offers.
Your memory care facility checklist
- A safe and thoughtful environment and layout. Look at an individual residence. Is it designed to be safe and secure? Are there visual cues to help a resident find their residence? People with Alzheimer’s or other memory loss often wander – are there walking paths or circular hallways for them to walk without becoming frustrated by dead ends? Is there a secure outdoor area where they can safely enjoy fresh air?
- Specially trained team members. Are team members trained to work with residents who have Alzheimer’s or dementia? Do they receive ongoing training to stay current on the most recent approaches to care? Do they take the time to create a personalized care plan with the family members to ensure your loved one’s needs, preferences and personal history are honored and respected? Is there a nurse and certified nursing assistant on-site 24 hours a day?
- Activities, dining and programming tailored to memory care residents. Ask to see the weekly menus and dining space, and inquire if there’s a dietitian on staff. Also ask for a monthly calendar of scheduled programs and activities to get a sense of how team members keep residents engaged and active.
- Amenities that are suitable for memory care. Some senior living communities offer an abundance of amenities, from saltwater pools and saunas to reserved golf cart parking and pickleball courts. But don’t become enamored by amenities your loved one may never use. Instead, make sure the memory care community offers appropriate services and features your family member can enjoy and benefit from such as:
- salon and barbershop
- chef-inspired meals
- arts and crafts room
- laundry and housekeeping
- activities that encourage social engagement
- Additional assistance for your loved one. Does the community provide assistance with activities of daily living? Or assistance with medication management? What about restorative therapy so your loved one can maintain a level of independence?
If you’re not sure where to start in your search for quality memory care, let our experts at Abbey Delray help you. Our all-new memory care suites, highly-trained team members, and host of thoughtful services and amenities create an environment where your loved one can live comfortably, and enjoy a better quality of life. You’ll rest easier too, knowing you made the best decision for your family member.
If you’d like to see all that Abbey Delray offers, schedule your personal visit of our memory care – and bring our checklist above with you! To start the conversation, simply contact us at 888.589.5778. Or fill out the contact form below to learn more about memory care services at Abbey Delray.