There are many difficult decisions to make when a loved one is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's disease. While ideally, you want the individual to retain their independence for as long as possible, there will likely come a time when it is your mutual best interest to choose an assisted living option for memory care.
One of the most challenging aspects of these kinds of disorders is the fact that they occur gradually, unlike other illnesses that might happen all at once. This can make it difficult to determine exactly when the best time to choose a memory care option is. Knowing what signs to look out for can help you in the process of deciding when it is time to choose one of these options for your loved one's care.
When Safety Becomes an Issue
One of the biggest signs that an individual may need memory care is if you find that you are consistently worried about their safety, or if they have unintentionally put themselves into potentially dangerous situations. Individuals suffering from issues such as dementia and memory loss are often prone to wandering, which can put them at risk. Additionally, there may be situations in which they become easily agitated, or even violent.
It can be a dangerous situation for both the individual and those in close contact with the individual. It is typically best to put an individual into memory care, where they can be watched over with professionals who have experience with these types of issues when safety becomes a concern.
When the Individual Has Additional Health Care Needs
Another challenge that individuals face when a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia or a memory loss problem is meeting the health needs of that person. Those who are on medications may begin to miss doses on a regular basis, or else take too much of a prescribed medication at a given time.
It is also common for those suffering from memory ailments to have difficulties with eating a nutritious diet. They may skip meals, or otherwise be incapable of preparing healthy meals for themselves. Another factor to look out for is if the individual is incapable of performing necessary hygiene or grooming practices, as these can lead to poor health over time.
Unexplained physical changes in an individual can also be a signal that their health is at risk as a result of a memory disorder. Unexplained weight loss or weight gain, increased frailty, unexplained scrapes, and bruises, and other physical issues can all be indicators that the individual is incapable of properly protecting and taking care of themselves.
When the Individual is Experiencing Isolation, Depression, or Anxiety
One of the more common first symptoms, when an individual has been diagnosed with a memory ailment is withdrawal. Many individuals may no longer be able to or interested in socializing. Those with more advanced memory loss may exhibit unpredictable behaviors that make it difficult for them to go out into public to eat, shop, or spend time with others. This situation can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety in the individual suffering from memory loss, and may even cause them to become even more agitated or disruptive. A memory care situation can be a solution in these circumstances because it will allow them to reconnect with others in a safe, controlled environment.
When Money Becomes a Concern
Another common factor for those suffering from memory ailments is an inability to manage their finances. If a loved one suffering from a memory issue has begun to spend unwisely, or makes significant mistakes regarding money such as forgetting to pay necessary bills, then it may be time to put them into a situation where these issues can be managed for them. Those who suspect money issues should, with permission, look over bank statements or other financial documents such as credit statements to ascertain whether or not finances have become a problem for them.
When They Are in Poor Living Conditions
It is common for those suffering from memory ailments to become unable to care for the environment that they live in. One common sign that there may be a problem is if the individual exhibits hoarding behavior, including buying multiples of items, or if they allow a significant amount of refuse to build up in their home.
In some situations, problems may occur because the individual forgets to turn off a burner or a water tap, which can create an unsafe living environment or even potentially cause property damage to the space they live in. When these and other similar issues begin to occur on a regular basis, it may be wise to assess whether or not it is safe to live in an unsupervised environment.
When the Caregiver Begins to Experience "Burn Out"
It is important to realize that the health and safety of the caregiver is just as important as the health and safety of the afflicted individual. While ideally, you would be able to continue taking care of your loved one for as long as possible, it's important to realize that burnout can create an unsafe environment for the caregiver as well as for the patient. In these circumstances, memory care can be an ideal solution for keeping a loved one safe and ensuring your own physical and mental health as well.
Making the decision to put a loved one into memory care is never easy. However, for most individuals there comes a time when it is important to do so for their safety and well-being. Assisted living situations designed to help individuals suffering from memory issues such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease can help to keep them safe while also ensuring that they are able to maintain their quality of life, even as their symptoms progress. While there is no cure for memory disorders such as these, the right living situation can do much to protect them.