As a family member of someone showing signs of cognitive decline, being aware of the signs of progressing dementia and the special care options that are available can significantly affect your loved one’s quality of life.
People with dementia experience a wide range of symptoms, and their needs progress at different rates. If your loved one is still at home, you may have concerns about safety and daily living, while if they’re already in an assisted living facility, you may be considering when to move from assisted living to memory care.
Keep reading to learn more about the differences between normal cases of forgetfulness and signs of dementia, as well as living options that can ensure a loved one with dementia has access to appropriate long-term care.
What Are Some Signs That Memory Loss May be Serious?
To some extent, growing forgetful with age is normal. As the body ages, natural biological changes affect a person’s cognitive abilities. Certain medical conditions can also contribute to mental decline, particularly when blood and oxygen flow is disrupted, since both are vital to brain function.
However, when casual memory lapses begin to affect daily life and safety, it may be time to start thinking about when to move from assisted living to memory care. Watch for signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia like:
Persistent memory loss. Occasionally struggling to recall a word or missing an appointment is fairly normal, but an early sign of Alzheimer’s or dementia is frequently forgetting significant dates like loved ones’ birthdays, habitually losing things or repeating the same questions again and again.
Changes in behavior or abilities. Someone with memory loss may display new personality traits or fears about completing everyday activities. Agitation, anxiety and withdrawal are also common. You may notice your loved one grappling with basic decisions, exercising poor judgment or becoming overwhelmed while tackling familiar tasks.
Confusion that poses risks. Misplacing keys or eyeglasses is one thing, but taking a walk and forgetting how to get home is completely another. Actions that place your loved one in potential danger should be taken seriously so they don’t put themselves or others in harm’s way.
Disorientation about time, location or people. Even young people sometimes forget which day of the week it is, but for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, that confusion is more profound. They may have increasing trouble recognizing family members or believe they’re living in a different time or place.
New challenges with vision or communication. Problems judging distance and distinguishing colors can be a sign of Alzheimer’s. Carrying on a conversation may also become problematic; you may notice your loved one trailing off in the middle of a sentence, repeating the same point or frequently struggling with vocabulary.
If you suspect your loved one may have Alzheimer’s or dementia, know that early intervention has many benefits. A medical professional can help you determine whether the symptoms you’re seeing are truly a form of dementia, offer advice about treatment options and help you plan for the future. A professional assessment has other practical advantages, like medical benefits and long-term cost savings. In addition, a physician can weigh in on decisions such as when to move from assisted living to memory care.
Does Someone With Memory Loss Need Advanced Care?
For many people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, an assisted living community can provide a safe environment with a little extra support to complete activities of daily living. This living option is ideal for someone who desires independence but benefits from help when they need it.
One example is nutrition. For various reasons, it can become difficult for those affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia to maintain a well-rounded and nutritional diet. At Querencia at Barton Creek, a medical director and registered dietitian manage nutrition so every resident receives three chef-prepared meals daily.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for Alzheimer’s or dementia, so at some point, the disease will progress and the level of independence that assisted living provides is no longer safe or realistic. That’s when a move from assisted living to memory care is necessary. Not all assisted living communities offer a memory care facility, so it’s a good idea to do your homework before you transition to memory care.
How Does Memory Care Differ From Assisted Living?
While many of the services offered in assisted living are similar to memory care, there are nuances in the way the care is delivered. Querencia at Barton Creek is a Life Care community, so residents have the option to move from assisted living to memory care, which is designed to reduce confusion while providing added protection and security. Licensed professionals who specialize in memory loss deliver 24-hour supervised care. Familiar schedules, comfortable surroundings and a full-time lifestyle coordinator help ensure each resident’s unique needs are served with compassion.
In addition, unique therapeutic programs like MUSIC & MEMORY® use custom, personally curated playlists to enliven resident spirits and tap into comforting memories.
If you’ve reached a point when a move from assisted living to memory care is in your loved one’s best interest, you’ll want a memory care community that delivers a level of care you can trust. Use the contact form on this page to learn more about Querencia’s approach to Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Austin.