It is estimated that more than six million Americans over the age of 65 are currently living with some form of dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, that number means that one in nine people over age 65 have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
With the rise in cases of dementia, the need for memory care services is also growing. So, what is memory care? Sometimes referred to as Alzheimer’s care, memory care provides 24-hour-a-day care and housing for seniors with all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Memory care communities offer uniquely designed environments that prioritize safety and enhance the quality of daily life for residents with dementia. There are many key services that set memory care communities apart from assisted living facilities or nursing homes, including their specially trained staff, memory-focused therapies and their secure environments.
On a dementia journey, it is important to understand the options, like memory care, as well as to know what signs to look for as the disease progresses and when it might be time to make changes for safety.
Early Signs of Dementia
While Alzheimer’s disease is the best-known type of dementia, the term “dementia” actually describes a group of symptoms that affect thinking, social abilities and memory. There are many forms of dementia and each generally involves some type of memory loss. While memory loss as you age does not mean you have dementia, it is an early sign of the condition. Other early signs of dementia include:
- Struggles with language
- Disorientation in space and time
- Problems with abstract thinking
- Losing items in your living space
- Trouble performing familiar tasks
- Impaired judgment
- Changes in personality, mood and behavior
- Loss of initiative
- Memory loss that affects daily abilities
Dementia is a condition that must be diagnosed by a physician. If you or a loved one have concerns about potential symptoms of dementia, it is best to consult your health care provider.
When to Consider Memory Care
Once a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis is made, there are many questions that surface. How quickly will the disease progress? What is the best care available? How should you handle safety concerns?
After a dementia diagnosis, many families want to help move their loved one into a safe, qualified memory care community as soon as possible to gain the most benefits. Other families prefer to care for their loved one at home for a period of time. No matter what your family chooses, it helps to understand what signs to look for that can indicate that it is in your loved one’s best interest to move to memory care. These include:
Caregiver stress. Caring for a loved one with dementia is more than a full-time job. The long hours and emotional strain can create negative situations, both for the family or friend providing care and for the patient. In a memory care setting, staff members are trained to handle the daily challenges of caring for someone with dementia.
Declining overall health. Memory loss impacts so many things that can contribute to a decline in health. Things like the inability to make a grocery list, take daily medications, attend appointments or even remember to eat can create an environment of poor health. Memory care residents have the support of trained health providers who can monitor the progression of the disease, and also have access to special therapies and programs to slow the disease’s symptoms.
Increased isolation. It is common for someone with dementia to reduce their social engagements and daily activities. However, too much time alone can increase the risk of a senior experiencing anxiety and depression. In a memory care setting, residents can engage with peers, family members and friends to enjoy on-site educational activities, hobbies, exercise programs, social activities and therapies all designed to engage their minds and uplift their spirits.
There are additional physical signs that dementia is progressing to the point that additional care support is needed. These signs include:
- Rapid weight loss
- Neglected personal hygiene
- Poor or worsening posture
- Unexplained bruises or injuries
At Mount Prospect Senior Living, we understand the importance of care and respect in the course of dementia and Alzheimer’s care. We also recognize the value of providing a safe, comfortable, familiar environment for our residents. Transitioning to memory care earlier in the dementia journey allows your loved one to have a say in making decisions, it provides additional adjustment time and creates an attachment to their new home and to their care team.
Do you have questions about our memory care community? We would love to answer them! Contact us today to learn more about our culture, our programs and our care.