Dementia progresses differently for every person, as no two dementia cases are the same. Often it is the people closest to those who have dementia that picks up the signs that it might be time to consider specialised memory care. It is important to be on the lookout for some of the tell-tale signs that appear at some stage in every dementia patient’s experience of the disease, doing this will ensure that your loved one receives the type and level of specialised memory care that they need when they need it.
Here are 5 signs to look for that may mean that your loved one needs memory care:
A memory-disorder diagnosis
Loved ones are often the first to notice changes in someone close to them, especially when it comes to memory-related illness. Not only do they start to forget things and repeat themselves, but their behaviours also change in subtle ways. They may start to become confused easily, anger faster, or even nervous about doing tasks that were previously simple for them, such as driving.
If your loved one has been formally diagnosed by a team of doctors to have Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia or similar memory cognitive problems, then it is best to start sourcing reputable memory care facilities. Cognitive decline, especially in those who are aging, is complex and requires a skilled medical and support team and a specialised environment and therapeutic programme, which is unfortunately almost impossible to emulate at home.
Decline in health
The next thing you may notice is that your loved one’s physical health starts to decline. Their clothes might seem to hang on their body, they may appear to be neglecting their appearance and hygiene, and possibly even struggling with incontinence. At this stage they should ideally already be in a memory care facility that monitors that your loved one is getting enough to eat and drink (as dehydration is a concern for people with dementia), and getting help to bathe and look after themselves.
A memory care home will also ensure that your loved one receives regular medical attention and will have trained staff to look for any underlying conditions and symptoms that might go hand in hand with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Depression and anxiety, as well as relatively simple physical problems such as an ingrown toenail can go unchecked in someone with cognitive decline because they simply do not remember to bring it to anyone’s attention or can no longer communicate it.
Stress on their caregiver
One of the tell-tale signs that someone with dementia needs memory care is the stress that it puts on their current caregiver. As the disease progresses the strain on the caregiver increases, especially if there are further complications such as incontinence or mobility issues. If the primary caregiver is a family member or spouse, it could be taking a major toll on the relationship or that person’s emotional and physical well-being.
This is a sure sign that memory care is needed, not only for the patient but for the caregiver as well. While making the brave decision to move a loved one into memory care is very difficult, it does help to restore the relationship between the loved one and their dementia suffering family member back to the way it was before the prognosis, no longer patient and carer – but back to mother/father and daughter/son, or husband and wife, etc.
Specialised memory care is required
There is no doubt that cognitive therapies do work to delay the progression of dementia, especially when coupled with medication and other things like the correct diet and social exposure. Caring for a loved one at home makes it much harder to meet that person’s social and cognitive stimulation needs. In a memory care facility, there are opportunities for socialisation everywhere, as well as structured and safe interactive therapies (both in the facility and on outings).
Cognitive therapy needs to be tailored to the person with dementia; it must be suitable for their stage of the disease, their mobility level, and with their personality likes and dislikes in mind.
Trust your instincts
Above all, trust your instincts when you get the feeling that your loved one needs a more specialised approach to their care. If you feel that you need to be more and more vigilant to keep your loved one safe, and have increasing encounters where your loved one is confused, disoriented or has been put in physical danger, it may be time to find specialised memory care.
It is not an easy decision, and you should gather as much information as possible to source the best care facility to suit your loved one’s needs and that is best for your family.