After a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia in a loved one, families sometimes resist the idea of memory care. In the beginning, dementia can feel manageable at home. But eventually, in most cases, the time will come for professional help. Learning how to talk to your family about memory care and plan for the future is the first step of a good dementia treatment plan.
What is Memory Care?
Memory care is the name for a type of assisted living especially for seniors with dementia. Like all assisted living, memory care aims to provide the greatest possible independence and safety. However, we recognize that as dementia progresses, safety requires supervision and intervention.
A memory care residence should feel like home; one structured specially to support brain health and cognitive function. The result is a living space in which every item can have therapeutic value.
We staff this carefully prepared environment with aides and nurses specially trained in dementia care. This means that no matter what happens throughout the day, each resident always has access to caregivers who understand their unique needs.
We’ve even re-imagined simple daily activities and meals in therapeutic ways, like adjusting recipes to reduce choking risks and improve nutrition. Residents participate in a schedule of exercise and activities that stimulate the brain and strengthen cognitive function.
Memory care also has different security than other senior living options. This way residents may freely walk and explore their environment without risk of getting lost or hurt.
How to Talk to Your Family About Memory Care
Once you understand what memory care does, you can easily see why it’s so important. In its early stages, dementia care can happen at home. But as the condition progresses, the time, skill, and attention required of caregivers grows. In most cases, dementia will eventually require full-time residential care.
It’s wise for families to work together and plan ahead about dementia care as soon as there is a diagnosis. You can lead the way by helping to break any stigma or taboo that your family members might be feeling. Talking about dementia and memory care as normal things can help make it easier to discuss and plan together.
Ask questions that will help your family think about the future and what they hope for. Be realistic about what you can expect from yourself and each family member. Know what you can do and commit to no more that. Many families begin with wonderful and loving good intentions but can end up frustrated, exhausted, or trying to provide more than their training or ability allows.
Why to Talk to Your Family About Memory Care Now
You may feel like these are questions that can be answered later, or that it’s better to plan as you go. Many families do take this approach. Unfortunately, because dementia is unpredictable, lack of planning often leads to serious problems.
Families that are unprepared for the realities of memory care get overwhelmed more easily. They are more likely to experience burnout, a condition that causes caregivers to experience depression, anger, anxiety, and withdrawal. And their loved ones are more likely to suffer complications that result from inexperience, such as infections.
When families don’t plan ahead, they are also more likely to put their loved one through a rushed or last-minute move. This is painful for any elderly person, who can struggle to adjust to sudden changes. This is especially damaging and difficult when dementia is involved.
Planning ahead can help prevent these problems. Know what to expect for the specific diagnosis your loved one has received. Learn what symptoms will tell you that it is time to begin transitioning to memory care. The best way to provide what your loved one needs in a timely way is to have a plan before they need it.
Does your mom or dad need memory care? Are you looking for caregiver support or respite services? We can help. Click here to contact us today and speak with an expert about where to go from here.