How to Know When It’s Time for Professional Memory Care Services

As a caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, you probably have concerns about what the future holds. How fast will changes occur? What can I expect to happen next? How will I know what to do?

Because progressive memory loss affects individuals in different ways, it can be very difficult to predict the future with any degree of accuracy. As memory care experts remind us, the only thing you can be certain of is that the challenges facing your loved one – and you – will only increase with time.

Therefore, having a good understanding of the condition your loved one is living with, and its key characteristics and indicators of change, is very important.

As Your Loved One’s Needs Grow, So Too, Will Their Dependence on You

The progressive nature of memory loss means that your loved one’s need for personal care, support and safety will continue to increase, as will your personal expenditure of time, effort and energy as their caregiver. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that at some point your loved one will require a higher level of care than you can safely and appropriately provide in the home.

Aside from your loved one, they also warn that the daily challenges of caregiving can take a major – and potentially dangerous – toll on your own well-being. It is not uncommon for caregivers to become physically overburdened, emotionally stressed and spiritually depleted, which places them at higher risk of serious illnesses and emotional disorders, such as hypertension and depression.

In fact, because of the ever-increasing demands placed on primary caregivers, they are frequently referred to as the “second victims” of Alzheimer’s disease. As a result of their own personal challenges in coping with the situation, it is frequently very difficult for them to make the important decisions that need to be made about their loved one’s care.

“How Can I Make the Right Decisions for My Loved One’s Care?”

Experts suggest that the best decisions are made objectively (i.e. based on the facts and what is in the best interest of your loved one’s well-being). They also provide us with useful guidelines to help make the right decisions.

For example, the Alzheimer’s Association article Residential Care, provides a useful list of questions that can help you determine if it is time for your loved one to receive 24-hour professional care at a long-term care community that provides specialized memory care services. The questions include:

  • Is your loved one becoming unsafe in his/her current home? Does he have difficulty climbing stairs, toileting and bathing? Is she at risk of falling?
  • 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)?
  • 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?
  • Are you becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver? Are you feeling depressed, hopeless and having trouble sleeping?
  • Are you neglecting your work responsibilities, your family or yourself?
  • Would the latest professional care, support services and social interaction at a long-term care community specializing in memory care benefit your loved one?

You Deserve a Life, Too!

A recent New York Times article by Judith Graham titled,For Traumatized Caregivers, Therapy Helps,” outlined the physical and emotionalcosts of caregiving and the challenges of making difficult care decisions. Ms. Graham notes that some professionals liken the effects of caregiving to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as caregivers may experience symptoms like “intrusive thoughts, disabling anxiety, hyper-vigilance, avoidance behaviors,” and more.

Clearly, the decision to move your loved one to a long-term care community offering specialized memory care can be fraught with powerful, conflicting emotions. Yet, the majority of caregivers who make this decision express a sense of relief in the knowledge that their loved one is receiving the care they need -- when they need it -- in a supportive, professional environment that also provides continuing social engagement.

An additional benefit is that caregivers then have the freedom to spend quality time with their loved ones without the constant demands of full-time caregiving. As many experts in the field will attest, a community offering specialized memory care services is often the kindest, most caring choice you can make for your loved one – and for you.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences with us. Please share your thoughts in our comments section.

Discover our Healthy Tradition of Care and Wellness

Located adjacent to Lankenau Hospital, 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 rehabilitationtraditional nursing care, restorative carememory carerespite 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.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Saunders House/Bryn Mawr Terrace 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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