How to know when it’s time to seek memory care

Deciding to place a spouse or other family member with dementia into memory care is one of toughest decisions you can make.

Dementia is characterized by a progressive loss of mental functioning, whether from Alzheimer’s disease or another condition. The result is an ongoing loss of memory and thinking ability.

Dementia also can cause personality changes, such as agitation or aggressive behavior, and changes in sleep patterns like insomnia that make caring for people with dementia difficult.

Over time, someone with dementia will be less and less able to function independently and their care will become increasingly demanding.

Some memory care providers and assisted living facilities have special memory care units designed to care for individuals with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Deciding to place a spouse or other family member with dementia into memory care is one of toughest decisions you can make.

What are the signs it’s the right time for memory care?

This question can be broken down into two central issues: the health and safety of the person with dementia and the safety and well-being of the caregiver.

Norton Neuroscience Institute Memory Center

Our specialists provide evaluation and care for patients with symptoms of memory loss, which can include trouble learning new things, concentrating or making decisions that affect their everyday life.

Call (502) 446-4664 (4NNI)

Here are some helpful questions to ask when considering the health and safety of the person with dementia:

  • Is the person becoming unsafe in their current home?
  • If so, is care at home an option to give them the support they need?
  • Could other options short of a memory care unit, such as assisted living, provide the necessary care?
  • Would the structure and social interaction of a memory care unit benefit the person with dementia?

Caring for someone with dementia can be physically, emotionally and psychologically demanding for caregivers. Caregivers should ask themselves the following questions when considering memory care for their loved one:

  • Am I becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver?
  • If so, would some respite care provide enough of a break to continue as caregiver? 
  • Are my loved one’s care needs beyond my physical or emotional abilities?
  • Am I neglecting responsibilities at work, to my family or to myself?
  • Is my physical or mental health at risk?

It’s important to think about these questions in advance before there is a crisis so you can have a plan in place.

No matter what decision you make, the result presents challenges. Memory care centers offer professional, 24-hour staffing, ensuring your loved one is safe and cared for, and alleviating the concerns of caregivers. At the same time, memory care providers are not family, and the person with dementia is uprooted and placed in an unfamiliar environment. 

Making the decision to move a loved one to a memory care unit is painful, but it is not always possible to keep the person at home while continuing to provide the level of care they need.

Placing a loved one in a memory care unit does not mean your relationship as caregiver ends. Think about ways you can still be involved in their care. Consider how you can help make the person with dementia feel comfortable, safe and content in their new home.

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