50 million older adults live with dementia or about 5% of the global 60+ population. Yet, just because a doctor diagnosed you or your loved one with dementia doesn’t mean it’s time for a memory care facility.
What is memory care? Memory care communities employ professionals with expertise in disorders like dementia. Your loved one can get the tailored services he or she needs to live life to its fullest.
Are you wondering whether you or your loved one could benefit from a memory care facility? Then keep reading for the top seven signs that it’s time to make the move.
1. Inability to Perform Activities of Daily Living
Doctors use Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) to determine whether an older adult needs assisted living services. ADLs include bathing or showering, getting in and out of bed, and using the bathroom without assistance.
If your loved one is incapable of performing these or other ADLs, he or she may no longer be capable of independent living.
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) can also help you determine if you or your loved one can live independently. IADLs include:
- Performing essential housekeeping duties like laundry and cleaning
- Managing money
- Managing medications
- Preparing meals
- Shopping for food and household necessities
- Using the phone or the computer
Experts suggest that a decline in IADLs may be the first sign of significant memory impairment. Inability to perform one IADL may not be sufficient for a memory care facility. But you should start considering your options.
2. Dramatic Changes in Behavior
Dementia is a disorder of the brain. Since the brain controls behavior and personality, it should be no wonder people with dementia experience behavior disturbances.
Small changes in behavior aren’t usually something to worry about. But if your loved one’s behavior changes dramatically, it may be time to consider memory care services.
Dramatic changes in behavior include when a usually docile individual becomes aggressive or agitated. Another example would be if your loved one enjoys going for a Sunday drive but suddenly stops driving for no apparent reason.
3. Physical Health Decline
If you don’t live with your loved one, how do you know if he or she is capable of performing essential ADLs? One of the first signs of inability to care for oneself is a decline in physical health. Ask yourself:
- Is your loved one looking thinner or more frail than usual?
- Is your loved one’s home uncharacteristically unkempt?
- Does your loved one often fail to answer the phone when you call?
Did you answer yes to one or more of these questions? Then it might be a sign your loved one needs memory care.
Significant weight loss in older adults can signal forgetfulness around mealtimes or failure to take medications as directed. A dirty home could be a symptom of withdrawal and even depression.
Finally, if your loved one isn’t answering the phone when you call, he or she may not be able to get out of bed. Any of these situations are more than enough to warrant a move to an assisted living facility.
4. Significant Urinary Incontinence
Continence is another one of the Activities of Daily Living we mentioned above. This term refers to an individual’s ability to urinate properly.
As dementia progresses, your loved one may forget to use the bathroom. Or they may urinate at inappropriate times or in unacceptable places. This is known as incontinence.
Incontinence is unsanitary for your loved one and their caregiver. It’s easier and safer to let the professionals at an assisted living community handle the problem.
5. Threats to Physical Safety
One in four older people experience falls each year. This is a significant threat to your loved one’s safety because:
- Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury, which can exacerbate dementia symptoms and progression
- One in five falls causes a severe injury, including hip fractures and other broken bones
- Falling once makes your loved one 2x more likely to fall again
All older adults are at risk of falling since aging causes muscles and bones to deteriorate.
Risks to physical safety specific to older people with dementia usually come about because of confusion. Disorientation is one of the hallmarks of dementia. It can lead your loved one to become a threat to him or herself and others.
Do you feel like your loved one’s memory loss is threatening their safety? Then it’s time to call a local assisted living facility.
6. Lack of a Caregiver or a Caregiver’s Death
So, you’ve been putting off transferring your loved one to a memory care facility. Instead, you hired a caregiver. Or maybe your loved one’s spouse was still alive to act as a caregiver.
What happens when your loved one’s spouse dies, or your current caregiver suffers from burnout and can no longer work for you?
Being a caregiver is a hard job. If your loved one’s caregiver passes away or moves on to a new position, you may feel forced to provide care yourself. Skip the stress and take advantage of the benefits of memory care facilities instead.
7. Mental Health Decline
Dementia, in itself, is a mental health condition. But when other aspects of mental health decline, too, it may be time to consider assisted living. Look out for signs like reduced social outing, poor hygiene, and over or undereating.
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If your loved one is dealing with one of these seven problems, it may be a sign he or she needs memory care. A memory care facility can provide the specialized assistance needed to keep your loved one healthy and happy.