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When Is It Time for Memory Care?

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care

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When Is It Time for Memory Care

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be difficult as symptoms progress and more and more vigilance is required. At some point, many families and caregivers ask the same question, “When is it time for memory care?” Although everyone is different here are key signs that a memory care community may be the best choice.

When is it time for memory care?

Problems taking medications

One sign that memory loss is interfering with a loved one’s health and well-being is medication mismanagement. Studies cited in the Current Clinical Pharmacology article, “Ability of Older People with Dementia or Cognitive Impairment to Manage Medicine Regimens: A Narrative Review” found people with dementia may struggle to open medication containers, make errors when taking medications or may believe they don’t need their medications at all. Although caregivers often take over dispensing medications, it can quickly become difficult when they can’t be there at the right time.

For many, the occurrence of medication mismanagement answers the question, “When is it time for memory care?” In memory care, certified professional team members dispense all medications in the right dose and at the right time every day, ensuring continuity of medication and that no problems can occur.

Poor personal hygiene

People with dementia can become unable to manage self-care such as dressing, bathing, toileting, and other personal hygiene tasks. As it becomes apparent that a loved one’s personal hygiene is slipping, caregivers realize they must be available to help throughout the day and often the night too. This considerable demand for care can quickly answer the question, “When is it time for memory care?”

In a memory care neighborhood each member is assessed so team members know their capabilities and needs and can schedule help throughout the day and night. Families can rest easy knowing that their loved one is in good hands and the care professionals review their loved ones regularly to determine any additional needs as they arise. For an in-depth look at what this type of caregiving involves, read the blog “Difficult behaviors: bathing and personal hygiene.

Financial inconsistencies

Another sign that a senior with dementia needs help is when personal finances are mismanaged. As described in the article, “Managing Money Problems for People With Dementia,” signs of financial problems include unopened and unpaid bills, escalating credit card balances, new merchandise around the home, or an account that is missing money. Many families take over managing all financial matters, on top of their own, but soon realize there are far fewer financial worries when their loved ones live in memory care.

Memory care provides a range of services and amenities for one monthly payment. In memory care, members have a safe, secure and supportive environment that emphasizes independence and care. Daily activities and events are designed to be engaging and help memory care members thrive, without an itemized list of bills to pay.

Poor nutrition

Another factor that can trigger the question, “When is it time for memory care?” is poor nutrition. Signs there are problems with nutrition include weight loss or gain, lack of interest in eating, and the inability to prepare nutritional meals. Seniors who are undernourished may require medical intervention to uncover and solve the root problems and regain their health.  Poor nutrition may also mean medications are not being fully absorbed, thereby minimizing their impact.

According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International report, “Nutrition and Dementia” although people with dementia are often undernourished and underweight, “person-centered care” can help minimize the problem. This person-centered care is a keystone of memory care at The Birches, where our Culinary Services team makes meals fun and social as well as nutritious. Our team members know the mealtime needs of every memory care member and watch vigilantly for problems that can impact appetite or the ability to eat.

Family caregiver burnout

In the early stages of dementia, families may feel confident that they can manage care alone. As the disease progresses, however, caregivers often realize they are in over their heads. A person with dementia can experience disturbing behavioral problems, may wander away from home and get lost or injured, or caregivers become burned out trying to do everything.  Caregivers may become ill themselves since their focus is solely on their loved one. 

Any of these situations can prompt the question “When is it time for memory care?”  Too often family caregivers feel they are failing by turning to memory care.  Seeking help is not failure.  That is recognizing when experts can best assist your loved one so you can spend more meaningful time with them, and they can benefit from a community designed for them to be successful and enjoy their days.

“We often think our focus should be on keeping our loved one at home when caring for a person with memory loss,” cites Patti Terkovich, a 25-year veteran in the dementia care industry.  “However, we should also consider the home itself.  Is it safe?  Are they able to fully enjoy the environment or are they surrounded by triggers?  Keep in mind that home has memories that can be comforting, confusing, and then even mocking.  While “home” may be familiar, imagine how it would feel to see your hobby workshop closed every time you have an impulse to do a project, your golf clubs sitting dusty in the corner, your gardening tools not where they should be because they’ve been hidden away for safety, or home is not even recognized as home.  Are you serving their needs or yours?”

Memory care professionals are trained to shoulder the burden of care with compassion and skill. As the only Montessori certified memory care community in Illinois, The Birches prioritizes care based on each person’s needs to help each member live life to their fullest potential.

When trying to determine if it’s time for memory carecontact us to learn more and to schedule a tour of our memory care community. 

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