When Is It Time for Memory Care?

Older couple sitting down on the couch speaking about when is it time for memory care

The journey that follows a diagnosis of dementia is different for every family but eventually there may come a time when the question, “When is it time for memory care?” requires an answer.

Among the many complicating factors are the different types of dementia, the disease’s progression, the individual’s overall health, family caregiving circumstances, and increasing day-to-day safety and security needs. When asking, “When is it time for memory care?” consider the many differences and similarities that can help families make the right decision at the right time.

Dementia types and progression

The nia.nih.gov article, “Understanding Different Types of Dementia” looks at four of the most common types of dementia at their most basic which can help narrow the diagnosis and inform caregivers about what to expect physically, mentally and emotionally. However, one thing that all types have in common, according to the alzheimers.org.uk article, “The progression, signs and stages of dementia,” is that all are progressive and to date, incurable.

It’s also important to understand that progression varies from person to person based on the type of disease, their age and health status. For example the article notes that while Alzheimer’s disease may progress slower than other types of dementia especially in those 65 and older, health conditions like hypertension or heart disease, may also speed up the progression if not well managed.

Another complicating factor is that dementia may be implicated in another disease such as is the case with Lewy body disease and Parkinson’s disease. Other influences on dementia can include family history, lifestyle and illness or injury. All these variations can signal it’s time to ask, “When is it time for memory care?” to best understand if caregivers have the knowledge or resources to fully meet their loved one’s changing needs.

The early stage of dementia

For many families the early stage of dementia is manageable because their loved one may retain their ability to live alone day-to-day with occasional visits for assistance. In fact, according to the healthline.com article, “The Stages of Dementia,” during the early stage, which can last about two years, it is best to encourage loved ones to continue with tasks they can handle as long as possible, limiting help to those that are not easily managed. As the level of care required grows, however, it will often trigger families to ask, “When is it time for memory care?” based on whether or not they can continue to provide the care necessary to keep their loved one safe and healthy.

The middle stage of dementia

The question, “When is it time for memory care?,” often comes up during the middle stage of dementia as more changes occur and more care is needed. For example, the verywellhealth.com article, “What to Expect in the Middle Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease,” notes the middle stage is characterized by increased short- and long-term memory loss; inappropriate social behaviors; agitation and wandering; declining self-care, appetite, and sleep; and episodes of delusion, paranoia or hallucinations.

Perhaps the most frightening of these for family caregivers is wandering, which is when a senior leaves the safety of the home and becomes lost or injured. According to the newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org article, “Alzheimer’s and dementia: Understand wandering and how to address it,” when wandering occurs it may require the security measures to not only prevent a loved one from leaving home but to be able to locate them if they do.

End-stage dementia

End-stage dementia is the final stage of the disease and is generally the most difficult for families not only because it signals their loved one is nearing the end of their life, but because their needs can be overwhelming for untrained caregivers. As the medicalnewtoday.com article, “End stage dementia: Care, support, and more,” notes, this is the time when the disease is at its worst, causing sometimes severe disabilities that make everyday life difficult for them and their caregivers. At this stage, the question “When is it time for memory care?” can best be answered by speaking with physicians and memory care providers to determine if a move should be considered.

Seeking the answer to the question “When is it time for memory care?” is a personal and often heart-wrenching one for families who have steadfastly provided for a loved one for months or even years. But the single most important aspect to consider is what is best for the senior and how memory care can improve their quality of life, no matter what stage of dementia they have reached.

At The Lodge at Stephens Lake our memory care is second to none and our residents and their families can rest assured care is designed to make life as good as it can be in a safe, secure and compassionate environment. Find out more about the care options at The Lodge at Stephens Lake in our free “Senior Living Options Guide: A Guide for Understanding Which Level of Care is the Best Fit.Contact us to schedule a tour of our beautiful neighborhood!

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