February 20, 2021
8 Signs It Might Be Time to Consider Memory Care for Your Loved OneMemory Care
It’s certainly never easy to see a loved one struggle with their cognitive health or begin to show signs of decline. It can be overwhelming to provide the care they require, constantly worry about their safety and simultaneously plan for whatever comes next. When seniors are faced with new or worsening memory challenges, the experience tends to take a toll on both the individual and the caregiver. Often, the unique challenges associated with significant memory loss are greater than a caring family member or loved one can realistically and safely provide.
To help seniors and their loved ones navigate this particular set of challenges, specialized memory care centers offer the kind of attention and critical care that help families manage the process with greater clarity, dignity and peace of mind. Of course, making the connection between your loved one’s potential memory decline and their eventual need for this kind of specialized care isn’t always easy or obvious. To help bring greater awareness to the issue, this article highlights a variety of the most common signs that it might be time to start thinking about memory care for the senior in your life.
1. Alzheimer’s or Dementia Diagnosis
This is usually the clearest signal that your loved one requires a level of memory care that you may not be able to provide on your own. If you’ve recently received this diagnosis, you’re not in limited company. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and that number is expected to climb as the population of the U.S. ages.
Fortunately, memory care communities are becoming much more prevalent as the need for specialized care increases. These types of care centers are designed with the specific needs of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related illnesses in mind. They partner with medical providers and engage a team of staff who are expertly trained to help seniors and their families manage their memory challenges, maintain health and safety, and live life to the fullest.
2. Failure to Take Medications Appropriately
Medication management for a senior with memory decline can be especially difficult. In truth, many seniors struggle to keep all of their medications on track on a daily basis even without the added stress of memory loss. Depending on how many different types of medications or dosage instructions are involved, maintaining a strict routine in this regard can be quite tricky. Even so, the repercussions of mismanaging medications can be dangerous, if not deadly. That’s why this process should be taken very seriously.
If your loved one is not capable of staying on top of their medications, you’re concerned that they’re misusing their prescriptions in any way or you feel you can’t keep up with monitoring it all, it’s critical to seek help immediately. Specialized memory care centers are uniquely equipped to manage and administer medications consistently. Staff are also trained to monitor behaviors and changes in health that may signal the need for alterations to current medication types and dosages.
3. Lack of Nutrition
Many seniors faced with memory decline begin to show signs that they’re not taking care of their daily nutritional needs. Often, preparing and consuming meals is overlooked or becomes too difficult a cognitive activity to follow through on from start to finish. Given that nutrition is particularly essential to the health of aging seniors, missed meals and/or lack of proper dietary needs can bring about serious concerns. Memory care communities build this vital aspect into their care offerings, ensuring that residents consume adequate, timely and nutritious meals according to individual dietary needs. Doing so is an essential component of maintaining both physical and mental health.
4. Difficulty Showering & Maintaining Hygiene
If your loved one is not managing to make bathing and hygiene activities an ongoing and consistent effort, they may require a greater level of care than they’re currently receiving. Aside from the impact that memory loss has on a senior’s ability to make these activities a regular routine, there’s also the potential for tasks like these to become too great a physical responsibility for your loved one to manage on their own. Specially trained staff at memory care communities are positioned to provide seniors with the support they need to carry out these types of daily living routines, including showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed or any other related task.
5. Self-Isolation & Lack of Stimulation
Seniors suffering from cognitive decline often begin to show signs of lost interest in family and friends. Memory challenges sometimes cause them to avoid social occasions and keep to themselves out of fear of becoming easily confused. But self-isolation and the lack of mental and emotional stimulation that accompanies it are highly detrimental to the health of an aging loved one.
At a specialized memory care center, on the other hand, your loved one would be encouraged to engage with other residents and staff, participate in activities, take advantage of socialization opportunities and find what brings them joy. These types of communities also focus on unique approaches to entertainment and socialization for people experiencing memory loss. Some offer options like music therapy, memory games and other individualized care to create moments of real meaning that engage residents emotionally, physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.
6. Increasing Aggression
When memory issues are at play, frustration is natural, common and completely understandable. This is simply not an easy reality to live with, and the strain it puts on a senior’s emotions can be palpable. That’s why many people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms begin to act out and show signs of increasing aggression, even toward the people who love and care for them.
It takes a very specialized skill set to approach this aggression with understanding and diffuse escalating expressions of aggression. To keep a senior feeling calm and comfortable as they deal with such immense frustration and/or anger, memory care staff are trained to redirect these thoughts, emotions and actions effectively. Memory care communities also provide the kind of support and environment that protects residents from hurting themselves or putting themselves in danger in response to overwhelming emotion.
7. Sundowning Symptoms
As seniors take on the condition of Alzheimer’s or dementia, changes start to unfold in the brain that cause disruption to their usual cognitive functions. Often, this results in common experiences of sleeping difficulties, nighttime wandering, daytime napping and a particular type of agitation occurring late afternoon or early evening, which is referred to as “sundowning.” These kinds of disruptions to sleeping patterns and circadian rhythms-which manifest unpleasant sundowning occurrences and stress-are difficult for both the senior and their caregiver(s) to manage. In many cases, this is a surefire sign that your loved one is in need of specialized care.
8. Tendency to Wander
A common but no less frightening symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is a person’s sudden or eventual inability to recognize familiar places and faces. It’s typical for a senior suffering from memory decline to wander, become lost or get confused about their location. This scary sense of unfamiliarity can happen at any stage of the disease.
Memory care specialty centers understand this tendency and are highly equipped to manage it. The properties are usually designed with circular walkways that eliminate obstacles and make it easier for seniors to move throughout the community. They sustain strict monitoring procedures with around-the-clock supervision, they ensure security at all entrances and exits to prevent seniors from wandering off.
If you find that your loved one is experiencing one or more of these symptoms to the extent that their physical, mental and/or emotional health is suffering, there’s a good chance it’s time to consider specialized memory care to meet their needs. Of course, it can be difficult to face this reality, but getting your loved one the support they need to live a safer, more fulfilling life also brings great peace of mind.
To learn more about the kind of memory care your loved one deserves and find out how The Springs of Vernon Hills Alzheimer’s Special Care Center provides the utmost in support, contact us today.