Early on, a parent’s memory glitches may not raise much cause for serious concern. You may even enjoy a chuckle or two together over small incidents that cause no harm. However, if your loved one’s memory problems grow over time, and simple matters like misplaced keys evolve into bigger problems like missed doses of medicines, you may begin watching for signs it’s time for memory care. Paying close attention to your loved one’s living environment, changing behaviors and overall well-being will give you some valuable clues.
In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, many seniors can live successful and productive lives on their own. Unfortunately, memory loss progresses differently for different people, and that makes it difficult to anticipate how long a loved one can safely remain on their own after a diagnosis.
Often, people with dementia transition to memory care when there are indications their personal safety is at risk. You might also notice changes in behavior or see evidence that your loved one is struggling to keep up with essential daily tasks like grooming and eating. These can also be signs it’s time for memory care.
Safety is a serious concern for people with dementia because some memory lapses can have such dire consequences. If your loved one gets disoriented on a walk, they may wander far from home or into a high-traffic area where they may not recognize the danger of a busy street. Safety can also be an issue in the kitchen if heating devices don’t get turned off properly or food isn’t safely prepared.
Medication poses multiple potential problems, including forgetting doses, accidentally repeating doses, or not taking certain medications at the prescribed times or intervals. The living environment itself can also present safety risks. For example, if your loved one is prone to forgetting to put things away, piles of clutter can become tripping hazards. Remember, if a loved one is at risk for injury due to memory lapses, they may not be equipped to properly administer first aid or call for help after an accident. Worries about your parent’s safety are often some of the most critical signs it’s time for memory care.
Most people think of memory loss as a cognitive condition, and while that’s true, it’s important to remember it can also take a toll on your loved one’s physical and mental health. If you see your loved one’s memory loss affecting their health, you could be seeing signs it’s time for memory care.
For example, you may notice weight loss or weight gain, which can be a sign that your loved one is forgetting to eat or forgetting they already ate and eating again. Faltering personal hygiene can also affect health and lead to a wide range of medical concerns, including poor dental health, skin infections and gastrointestinal irritation.
Progressing memory loss can also result in mental health changes for your loved one. A community setting that provides the chance to engage with peers, participate in enriching activities, and give your loved one a greater sense of purpose can make a significant difference in their quality of life.
Behavior and personality changes are very common among people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Irritability and anxiety may become increasingly pronounced, with aggressive verbal or physical outbursts. You may notice your loved one repeating an action over and over or becoming fearful about things that never bothered them before, like going into a poorly lit room. A parent who was once meticulous about paying bills could begin accumulating past-due notices and late fees. As the severity of these changes increases, you may find it’s time to move your loved one to a memory care community.
You may have envisioned taking care of your mom or dad for the rest of their lives, but some conditions — including dementia — can make it difficult to execute those plans. A parent whose dementia makes them combative or aggressive puts you and your family members at potential risk. What’s more, a diagnosis that comes while you’re still managing your own career and have children at home may pull you in more directions than you can reasonably handle. Ultimately, you may discover that you can be a better caregiver and advocate for your parent by also protecting your own health and needs.
A memory care community is far more than a safe place for a parent with dementia to live. At Astral at Franklin, memory support services give residents a higher sense of purpose and fulfillment. Contact us to learn more about how our comfortable homelike environment could be the perfect setting for your loved one to experience more joy.
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