Deciding When It's Time for Memory Care for Your Loved One

Loved one hugging aging senior adult

With more seniors living longer today, the incidence of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia have increased in our society. As a result, more families are faced with the challenges of caring for an older loved one with memory loss.

 Memory loss caused by dementia affects individuals in different ways. Therefore, knowing what lies ahead for you, and your loved one with memory loss, can be very difficult to gauge.

 Over Time, Your Loved One's Memory Care Needs and Your Caregiver Responsibilities Will Grow

 According to memory care experts,the one thing you can be certain of is that the challenges facing your loved one – and you as a caregiver – will increase with time. Because dementia-related memory loss is a progressive disease, your loved one's need for personal care, support and safety will continue to increase, as will your need to commit more time, effort and energy to their care.

 Says Janet McNemar, NHA, MBA, Executive Director at Saunders House in Wynnewood, PA, "Memory care authorities advise that the time will eventually come when your loved one will require a higher level of care than you can safely and appropriately provide at home.”

The same experts also warn that the daily stresses of caregiving can place caregivers at risk of serious physical and emotional illness. The burdens of round-the-clock caregiving can become so overwhelming that they result in dangerous hypertension, heart disease and depression for caregivers. For this reason, caregivers for loved ones with memory loss are often referred to as the "second patients" or "other victims" of dementia.

To protect your loved one, as well as yourself, it is important to understand the disease process of memory loss and to be vigilant for signs that your loved one might need a greater level of care.

 A Guide to Making the Right Decisions for Your Loved One with Memory Loss

To assist families caring for older loved ones with memory loss, the Alzheimer's Association® offers this helpful guidance for determining if it's time for 24/7 professional memory care services. To make this determination, they suggest that you consider the following questions:

  1. Is your loved one becoming unsafe in his/her current home? Do they have difficulty climbing stairs, toileting and bathing? Are they at risk of falling?
  1. Is the health of your loved one or your health as a caregiver at risk? Have symptoms of the disease progressed to the point where they are becoming very challenging for you to manage in the home (e.g. incontinence, dehydration, aggression, paranoia and wandering)?
  2. Are your loved one's care needs progressing beyond your physical abilities? Is your loved one becoming increasingly dependent on you for help with activities of daily living, such as eating, dressing, bathing and toileting?
  3. Are you becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver? Are you feeling depressed, hopeless and having trouble sleeping?
  4. Are you neglecting your work responsibilities, your family or yourself?
  5. Do you miss the personal aspects of your relationship with your loved one now that you spend so much time managing their care?
  6. Would the latest professional care, support services and amenities, social interaction and life-enrichment activities available at a residential community specializing in memory care benefit your loved one?

 Janet adds, "Understandably, the decision to move your loved one to a community specializing in memory care can be a highly emotional one – even when you recognize that it's clearly in your loved one's best interests – and yours. The good news is that most caregivers say they feel a sense of relief in knowing that their loved one is receiving the full-time professional care they need in a supportive, welcoming environment that also provides social engagement and meaningful therapeutic activities.”

"Of equal importance, our Care Traditions memory care services will give family members the freedom to spend quality time with their loved ones without the daily stresses of caregiving post COVID-19 restrictions.

We encourage you to call us with any general questions you might have and to stay current on a variety of senior health and caregiver topics by viewing the latest articles on our website.

 We'd Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, "Deciding When It's Time for Memory Care for Your Loved One," we'd love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us in our comments section.

 Discover Our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Medical Center, Saunders House – part of Main Line Senior Care Alliance – has a celebrated tradition of providing exceptional care and services to seniors and their families. It's a tradition we're proud to continue.

Today, Saunders House offers a range of services – including short-term rehabilitation, traditional nursing care, restorative care, memory care, respite care and specialized care for individuals with visual impairments – all in a setting that is warm, welcoming and nurturing.

For more information on Saunders House, our short-term rehabilitation program and other professional services, please call us today at 610.658.5100 or contact us online.

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Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.

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