It can seem like just another one of those “senior moments” at first. Maybe your dad is starting to have more difficulty with familiar tasks at his assisted living community. A team member calls to tell you he hasn’t been participating in activities due to losing track of time and his way around the community. One of the harder to accept explanations is that your dad may be showing signs of dementia, leaving you and your family with a difficult choice: should he move from assisted living to memory care?
Dementia is a scary word that many associate with a loss of control and the ability to live a fulfilling life. It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one struggle to recognize their grandchildren or recall that beloved family vacation. A dementia diagnosis, though, doesn’t mean your loved one still can’t find joy and purpose in life. It may just be a sign that it’s time to move them into a community with specialized care and a team that understands how to meet their growing needs with compassion and understanding. This is where memory care comes in.
What is Memory Care?
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect people differently. Over time, it can progress from new problems with words when speaking or writing to issues that affect your loved ones’ safety and quality of life. That’s why the team in a memory care community is made up of memory care specialists trained to help each memory care resident enjoy a life filled with dignity, purpose and moments of engagement.
Memory care isn’t just for helping residents be safe, it is for creating moments of joy by building on each resident’s personal narrative to help them feel successful and connected. Making your loved one feel at home—and offering plenty of opportunities for fun and belonging—are at the heart of a dedicated memory care community. Five Star Senior Living’s award-winning, innovative Bridge to Rediscovery program provides those moments of joy and stimulation, and so much more. Whatever your loved one’s passions and abilities, Bridge to Rediscovery tailors their surroundings and activities around them. Meeting all the resident’s needs is the mission, from basic tasks to helping them find a sense of purpose and connection.
How is Memory Care Different from an Assisted Living Community?
Assisted living and memory care communities offer some similar services, help with the activities of daily living, dining, programs and more. Memory care communities are designed to provide specialized care for residents with dementia. Memory care team members have additional training and experience caring for seniors with dementia who can sometimes express challenging behaviors.
At Five Star, we use the phrase relate, motivate and appreciate. Memory care should relate to each resident’s life experiences so they feel connected to the world around them. We motivate people by focusing on what they enjoy, and we appreciate by inviting participation and giving choices. Programs that include the five domains of wellness: cognitive, sensory, group, motor and purpose help individuals with dementia flourish. A variety of therapies such as music therapy, aroma therapy, art therapy, pet therapy and horticultural therapy are quite helpful to encourage those with memory conditions to engage in the world around them. The activities of daily living (ADLs) offered in assisted living—like bathing and grooming—are still available, but memory care goes the extra step to give your loved one the specialized attention they need to continue to live a healthy and enjoyable life in a safe, secured environment.
4 Ways to Know It’s Time to Move from Assisted Living to Memory Care
It’s not uncommon for people to be more forgetful as they age. That’s what makes dementia so difficult to spot. It can seem harmless at first—a slight disorientation to time and place or stumbling on certain words—before escalating. Those signs of dementia could mean it’s time to make the move to memory care. Here are four key things to watch out for that could signal that it’s time to transition.
- Regular Confusion: We all forget to do the dishes or take out the trash every now and then. If your loved one is frequently losing track of time, having trouble expressing themselves or wandering, memory care will be the best choice.
- Less Active in the Community: Was your dad once a pool shark in the billiards club, but hasn’t shown up in a while? Maybe he stops by the activity room every now and then but seems distant and disinterested in whatever is going on. Dementia might be making these activities more challenging, and they would benefit from gentler, more cognitively stimulating activities.
- Requiring More Help: Is your loved one experiencing difficulties with the daily activities and are they exhibiting a decline in their cognitive abilities and decision-making skills? For example, a parent who has always done a good job managing finances and now their bills are overdue.
- Wandering: Becoming lost or exit seeking behaviors can occur at all stages of dementia and there are a variety of causes. Wandering is a sign that your loved one requires a safe and controlled environment.
Your loved one deserves to live an engaging, purposeful life in a setting that is custom tailored to their strengths and abilities. And you deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your loved one lives where they are safe, and have a sense of purpose and belonging. A dementia diagnosis is difficult to grapple with, but you and your loved one don’t have to face it alone. Moving them into a memory care community can help them receive the specialized care they need to live a meaningful life full of joy and laughter.
If you think your loved one is showing signs of dementia and it might be time to move them from assisted living into memory care, find a memory care community near you and meet with the team there to discuss your questions.