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When to Make the Move to Memory Care

Posted on: Mar 31, 2021

Family care partners face a physically, emotionally, and financially stressful experience when caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. 

Common challenges include:

Safety – Forgetfulness and confusion can lead the person to walk away from home, overflow a bathtub, or leave the stove on. 

Financial concerns – Because dementia clouds reasoning and judgment, a person can become a victim of a financial scam or make poor decisions about their financial resources, particularly if living alone. 

Dementia related behavior – While every situation is different, persons with dementia can experience paranoia, aggression, and refusal to accept personal care including bathing.

Caregiver isolation – When caring for a person with dementia, even before the pandemic, it’s hard to keep up past social routines and outings. It can become easy for the person with dementia, and his or her caregiver, to become increasingly isolated. 

Fatigue – Many persons with dementia have disruptions to their normal sleep patterns. Lack of sleep combined with the daily tasks of caregiving can lead to fatigue and health concerns for the family members.

If you are at the point where you are finding yourself overwhelmed or unable to offer care, it may be time to consider a move to assisted living memory care. Here are some tips for choosing a caring community. 

Look for a community that:

Has a clear program philosophy – A program should embrace a vision that is life-affirming, based on knowing the person well, and focused on strengths instead of losses. 

Trains its staff well - Training should go above beyond the minimum. Does the program offer regular courses for staff, encourage mentoring, embrace experiential learning, and set staff up for success with a good orientation?

Has a strong activity program – A program should be offered that is engaging and interesting, featuring music, exercise, conversation, and purposeful activity. In many ways, the “treatment” for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia is socialization and engagement. 

Creatively addresses behavior and personal care – An excellent memory care program uses a team-based approach to creatively address behaviors. A successful team can also develop strategies to get personal care accomplished including grooming and showers. This takes some of the heavy lifting off you and allows you to focus on socialization during your visit to the community. 

If you have questions about placement into a memory care community, contact your local Christian Horizons community for resources and help. Christian Horizons offers the Pathway Memory Support® program which includes regular spiritual engagement through Touch the Spirit® Activity Program.

David Troxel, MPH, co-author of The Best Friends Approach to Dementia Care and Consultant to Christian Horizons Pathway Memory Support Program

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