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Dementia Care at Home: When to Consider Memory Care

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, affects nearly 6 million people in the United States. Alzheimer’s usually progresses slowly and can even take years for early signs of memory loss to progress from the middle to late stages. Many family members choose to care for their loved ones at home. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 11 million family members care for someone with dementia. However, most family members aren’t equipped to provide care for someone with advanced dementia and choose to look for other options as the disease progresses. During the middle to late stages of Alzheimer’s, memory care can become necessary to keep individuals with the disease safe, healthy, and engaged.

What Is Memory Care and Can Someone with Dementia Live Alone? 

According to AARP, “memory care is designed to provide a safe, structured environment with set routines to lower stress for people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.” Memory care communities provide meals and help with personal care tasks, and are specially trained to provide care for those with memory issues, other cognitive impairments, and the behaviors that accompany Alzheimer’s disease. Those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s are more at risk of wandering than those without it. In fact, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 in 10 individuals diagnosed with the disease will wander at least once. Memory care communities are equipped with alarmed doors, secured elevators, and enclosed outdoor spaces to allow residents to enjoy gardens and fresh air while also keeping them safe.

According to U.S. News, there are different options for memory care, and whether your loved one can live alone depends upon how the disease is progressing. Assisted living facilities that typically offer assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and meal preparation, sometimes have dedicated memory care neighborhoods within the senior living community. Often these neighborhoods will have dedicated staff members trained in working with people who need additional care and specialized activities.

A dedicated memory care community is another option that provides comprehensive care in a secured environment. These communities are secured, ensuring residents won’t wander and get lost. In addition, memory care communities are usually designed with visual cues and artwork that ease anxiety and reduce frustration. As in assisted living communities, memory care communities offer meal preparation, medication management, personal care and enriching activities.

Skilled care nursing facilities are great options for individuals who need more care after an illness, injury, or hospitalization than they would receive while staying at home. Nursing communities offer round-the-clock care, including meals and medication management. This level of care can be long- or short-term and is only appropriate for individuals with complex medical needs that surpass the care provided in assisted living or memory care communities.

At What Point Do Seniors with Dementia Need 24-Care? 

While it can be difficult to move your loved one to a memory care community, there are common signs your parent has dementia that may require 24-hour specialized support from a team of caregivers:

  • When they aren’t safe at home. Is your loved one losing weight, injured or bruised without explanation, or has difficulty walking or standing without assistance? It could be time to explore other options. Those with dementia are also at risk for wandering and becoming lost, which is incredibly dangerous and can even result in death.
  • Stress for the caregiver. Caring for someone with dementia can be difficult, especially as the condition progresses. As time goes on, those with dementia can lose their communication skills and begin to show a pattern of negative behaviors that indicates the condition is progressing. There may come a point where it’s no longer possible to care for your loved one at home.
  • When your loved one becomes isolated. Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia can make the world feel very confusing. As the condition progresses, those with dementia may begin to retreat inward, avoiding their friends and other social situations. While this is a common occurrence, isolation can make the symptoms even worse. Memory care communities offer daily activities and opportunities for socialization and engagement, ensuring those with dementia are stimulated and have the opportunity to exercise their cognitive skills.

Questions to Consider 

Finding the right memory care community can feel overwhelming, especially if your search is urgent. As you tour different communities, consider asking these questions to help guide your decision-making process:

  • Is there a medical doctor and registered nurse on staff at all times?
  • Do the rooms come furnished or do residents bring their own items?
  • What is the staff-to-resident ratio?
  • What does the training for staff look like?
  • What is the retention rate for staff?
  • What types of medical services are provided?
  • What types of daily activities are offered and who leads the activities?
  • How do you handle those with behavioral issues such as combativeness and extreme confusion?
  • What types of meal plans are offered?
  • What does the communication between staff and family members look like?

Memory Care at Maplewood Senior Living 

Our memory care communities at Maplewood Senior Living offer stimulating environments designed to keep your loved one safe and engaged, while receiving high-quality medical care. Here, comfort and consistency are key. We assign a team to the same group of residents to foster belonging and stability. These familiar connections allow our staff to quickly recognize any changes that might be taking place and provide the necessary support. Along with a flexible daily schedule full of stimulating programs, exercise, music, and worship services, your loved one can be as active or engaged as they like, free to live with joy in each moment. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us

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1 Gorham Island Rd

Westport, CT 06880

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