If you are caring for a loved one with early- or mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, you might be worried about what comes next. The progressive effects of memory loss can be gradual and your loved one may seem to be getting along just fine. However, it can be difficult to predict the future because Alzheimer’s rate of progression varies with each individual and changes can occur rather quickly. The only certainty is that the challenges facing your loved one, and you, will only increase over time.
Preparing for the Future: For Your Loved One’s Sake and Yours
Ms. Shellie Kermin, Community Relations Director of North Woods Village at Edison Lakes says, “Two essential elements of caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s are knowledge and preparation. It is very important to understand the disease and to know what to expect over time. With that information, you’ll be in the best position to consider important decisions about your loved one’s care as changes occur.”
“The progressive nature of memory loss means that your loved one’s need for personal care and safety will continue to increase. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that at some point, your loved one will require a higher level of care than you can adequately provide in the home. They also warn that the daily challenges of caring for a loved one can take a significant toll on caregivers’ lives. Caregivers can become highly stressed, overburdened and at higher risk of serious illnesses and emotional disorders such as depression.”
“The emotional rollercoaster that caregivers often experience – including a sense of guilt and inadequacy – make important decisions about a loved one’s care that much more difficult. Ultimately, it is best to make decisions as objectively as possible based simply on the facts and the best interests of your loved one’s well-being – and yours.”
Expert Advice on Making the Proper Decisions for Your Loved One’s Care
An Alzheimer’s Association article on “Residential Care,” offers a useful list of indicators designed to help you decide if the time is right for your loved one to receive care at a professional residential memory care community. They recommend that you ask yourself the following important questions:
- Are your loved one’s care needs progressing beyond your physical abilities?
- Is your loved one becoming unsafe in their current home? Do they have difficulty climbing stairs, toileting and bathing? Are they at risk of falling?
- Is the health of your loved one or your health as a caregiver at risk? Have symptoms of the disease progressed to the point where they are becoming very challenging for you to manage in the home, (e.g. incontinence, dehydration, aggression, paranoia and wandering)?
- Are you becoming a stressed, irritable and impatient caregiver? Are you feeling depressed, hopeless and having trouble sleeping?
- Are you neglecting your work responsibilities, your family and yourself?
- Would professional care, support services and social interaction at a residential memory care community benefit your loved one?
Consider the Effects on Yourself as a Caregiver – Your Life is Important, Too
Some experts have referred to caregivers as “the second victims of Alzheimer’s disease” due to the toll it often exacts on every aspect of their lives. Judith Graham’s recent article in the New York Times titled, “For Traumatized Caregivers, Therapy Helps,” reviewed the physical and emotionalcosts of caregiving and of making difficult care decisions, which can be debilitating in their own right. She points out that some professionals liken the effects of caregiving to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Caregivers may experience symptoms like “intrusive thoughts, disabling anxiety, hypervigilance, avoidance behaviors,” and more.
Although moving your loved one to a residential memory care assisted living community is understandably fraught with strong and often conflicting emotions, most caregivers express a sense of relief knowing their loved one is receiving the care they need, in a supportive environment, with professionals that specialize in memory loss. Caregivers also gain the freedom to spend quality time with their loved one without the burdens and demands that come with full-time caregiving. For many reasons, memory care assisted living is often the kindest and most caring choice you can make for everyone concerned.
Help Is Available for Caregivers
Today, a variety of resources is available to assist caregivers who are caring for their loved ones at home, including Alzheimer’s Association services, support groups, self-help guides, Respite Care services, in-home support, community-based services and educational programs. Progressive residential Memory Care Communities (MCCs), such as North Woods Village at Edison Lakes, offer a variety of educational programs, support and special events designed to help family caregivers.
Guiding. Caring. Inspiring.
For caregivers who recognize that the needs of their loved one are beyond what they can safely and appropriately provide in the home environment, leading, residential Memory Care Assisted Living Communities (MCALs), such as North Woods Village at Edison Lakes and its “NEW DIRECTIONS”SM program in Mishawaka, IN, provide the full continuum of services that have been shown to improve health and well-being, support brain health and delay the progression of memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
At North Woods Village at Edison Lakes, we believe senior adults thrive in an environment that offers an active, vibrant lifestyle with a variety of activities that engage the mind, body and spirit. Our “NEW DIRECTIONS”SM provides a safe, professional environment and proven, best-practice programs and services specifically designed to address the total physical, emotional and social needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s, dementia or other serious form of memory impairment.
For more information and helpful resources, contact us today!