Learn more about how you can help your loved ones with in home care.

When Should You Move To Memory Care?

Finding a memory care facility or assisted living center for your loved ones is never something that you look forward to. Sadly, there is a great need for memory care centers, with over 30,000 assisted living facilities in the United States and one million Americans living in a type of a skilled nursing facility. This can be a stressful time for all family members involved because often your loved one may want to continue in an independent living situation even though it requires more assistance. However, most people are not able to provide in-home care or a family caregiver for their loved ones who may require hospice care.

You should consider moving the older adults in your life to a memory care facility or long-term care facility when they require assistance, are unable to complete daily activities or daily tasks, or if there is a significant decrease in their quality of life. Another key factor is if your loved one begins displaying dementia symptoms. They may chalk it up to age-related memory loss, but their cognitive problems could quickly progress to mild dementia or even severe dementia, rather quickly. If your loved one has a diagnosis of any stage of dementia, even if it is one of the mild types of dementia, it is important to have a caregiver who knows how to work with even a mild cognitive impairment.
While regular assisted-living centers are familiar with the normal aging process and even the decline of cognitive functioning that is often associated with this process, it is important to find a memory care facility that specializes in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. As your parent continues to age, they are at risk for things like depression, memory loss, and forgetfulness. They may also experience physical symptoms, such as high cholesterol, vascular disease, or high blood pressure, especially with physical activity. A memory care center will be able to recognize warning signs and whether these are normal symptoms of aging or if they are early signs of dementia or early-onset Alzheimer’s. If it is the latter, they may have tools for preventing memory loss for some time, increase brain function, activities that promote thinking skills, provide medical treatment, help manage medications, and may even be able to get your loved one involved in clinical trials. Some common diagnoses that memory care facilities are used to working with include Alzheimer disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia, transient global amnesia, transient ischemic attack, pick’s disease, neurodegenerative diseases, general memory loss and signs of dementia. It can be an extremely difficult decision to move a parent or loved one to a memory care facility or senior living center. But, you can take comfort in knowing that not only will your loved one have specialized Alzheimer’s caregivers as they experience stages of memory loss, but they will also have a community and support groups among other residents with stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s. They will also be supervised constantly, so your loved one will be safe and protected, even more than you could if they lived in your home while you also tried to juggle work, family, and your own health and well-being.

Here are some excellent questions to ask when attempting to decide if your loved one can perform daily activities, or if they are exhibiting some red flags of short-term memory loss, where they would benefit from transitioning to a memory care facility with a caregiver:

  • Does your loved one need help toileting or grooming themselves and with basic hygiene needs?
  • Does your loved one struggle with the ability to feed themself?
  • Does your loved one show increase aggression and other behavioral issues?
  • Does your loved one show signs of forgetfulness or experience memory lapses?
  • Does your loved one wander and seem disoriented, even in familiar settings?
  • Does your loved one need 24/7 supervision?
  • Is your loved one experiencing a cognitive decline, short-term memory loss, long-term memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Huntington’s disease, or Sundowner’s syndrome?

Does your loved one forget to turn off the stove, lock the doors, can’t manage their meds, forgets everyday words, and can’t seem to remember their own phone number or address?
If your loved one is experiencing some or all of the symptoms above, it may be time to discuss moving your loved one to an assisted living or memory care facility.

What Is The Difference Between Assisted Living And Memory Care?

There are several different kinds of assisted living or senior living facilities that are available near you. There are general assisted living centers where your elderly loved one can live and be taken care of when their health is in decline and they may display signs and symptoms of a loss of cognitive function. They will have trained nurses and housekeepers that help them get ready for the day, help them with their hygiene, and make sure they eat, as well as clean their mini homes or apartment. These assisted living care facilities are wonderful, so you don’t have to have your elderly parents move in with you. A benchmark of quality to look for when searching for a general assisted living facility for people with dementia is that they should provide the following levels of care for their residents:

  • Help with ADLs (activities of daily living)
  • Feeding
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Bathing
  • Grooming
  • Ambulating
  • Medication management
  • Three daily meals
  • Housekeeping services
  • Provide transportation

Then, there are memory care facilities. These are more specialized and consider the risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or other kinds of memory problems. They are aware of signs of Alzheimer’s disease and what to look for to indicate a diagnosis of dementia. Unlike an assisted living center where the elderly person usually has their own room and are checked in on from time to time, Alzheimer’s and dementia care facilities typically have 24-hour around the clock supervised care, in their own standalone wing or floor of an assisted living facility. The layout of the floor of the dementia or memory care unit is very easy to navigate, which ensures a lessened likelihood of the patients wandering around and getting lost. A long-term care center will also have a team and program dedicated to helping improve cognitive impairment associated with mid-stage dementia and late-stage dementia. These memory care units may also be known by the names: Dementia Care Community, Specialized Care Units (SPU), and Alzheimer’s Care Community. Assisted living facilities that also offer care for a person with any stage of dementia should also offer the following services, in addition to the services listed above:

  • Safety for wandering or confused residents
  • 24-hour supervision
  • Security and/or an alarm system on the premises
  • Emergency call systems
  • Specially trained staff
  • Medication management
  • Nursing staff

A structured environment that is also homey, to help residents feel comfortable and more secure
Cognitive therapies that include music, art, and reminiscence, to enhance brain cells function and communication
Gardens, so dementia and Alzheimer’s patients can still walk around outside and enjoy the fresh air and not feel trapped inside 24/7

Health and exercises programs run by the staff and qualified care providers
Social activities so they have a support system.

A great feature offered by many memory care facilities is the option of opting in for assistance with medication management and healthcare overall. But that’s not all – Opportunities to socialize are frequent and participation is optional but encouraged! This is because many of the activities offered are beneficial in therapeutic ways, especially for a person with dementia. These include engaging in activities that promote problem-solving skills, gardening, or the opportunity to relax on the garden grounds, music therapy, or pet therapy. Memory care facilities understand how to best organize activities for people with mild cognitive problems, so everyone can enjoy stimulating and relaxing activities, scheduled