Making the decision to move a family member into a memory care community can bring feelings of guilt, doubt, and anxiety. You may ask yourself, will my loved one be safe? Will they be well taken care of? Will they feel lost or abandoned? 

This is a natural part of the process of transitioning someone to a memory care community. You are not alone. Many caregivers go through similar emotions as they struggle to wrap their arms around the “new normal”. Their loved one has changed and, as the caregiver, they find themselves doing more and more every day to ensure that their loved one is eating, taking their medications properly, bathing regularly and staying safe from falls and elopements. Even when a caregiver has a wonderful support system, it’s common to have feelings of isolation, increased stress, anxiety, depression, and irritability. 

If you are finding yourself in this situation, it is important that you ask yourself the following:

  • Do you feel like you must do everything or that you should be doing more to care for your loved one?
  • Do you feel that you are withdrawn from friends or family or are no longer able to do the activities that you used to enjoy?
  • Are you worried about the safety of your loved one, especially if you aren’t around?
  • Are you anxious about healthcare related decisions?
  • Do you minimize the severity of the disease or its impact on your family?
  • Do you feel grief or sadness as the relationship with your loved one continues to change?
  • Do you get frustrated or angry as your loved one continually repeats things or no longer follows simple directions?
  • Is your physical health being impacted?

Sometimes the caregiver has self-limiting beliefs which prevent them from considering a move to a memory care community. They tell themselves that “No one can care for my loved one the way I do”,  “If something happens, I couldn’t live with myself”, or “My loved one needs me…they’ll fall apart without me”.

Memory care has changed significantly over the years as we learn more about the various diseases that comprise dementia and how to best care for the afflicted. And, while there is still no cure, there is a solid understanding shared by professional caregivers of what makes an individual thrive and make the most out of their current situation. Memory care communities are wonderful places that provide decreased levels of anxiety and increased quality of life for the affected person through:

  • Structured daily routines
  • Safety in a secure environment that allows for “safe wandering”
  • Person-centered care that is focused on the individual’s abilities and needs

How do you know when the timing is right? The onset of memory loss is often gradual and inconsistent, but when your loved one exhibits signs of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, a memory care community can be the right choice.  

Some signs that it’s time to consider a continuum of care are:

  • Memory loss has disrupted their daily life and your loved one has lost the ability to problem solve
  • Your loved one has limited ability or has lost the ability to complete familiar tasks
  • They get confused with time or place and may not recognize familiar surroundings
  • They have limited understanding or may have lost the ability to understand visual cues or special relationships
  • Speech and writing have become difficult
  • Items are easily misplaced, and they have lost the ability to retrace their steps
  • They have decreased or poor judgement 
  • They have changes in mood or personality, sometimes severe in nature
  • Personal hygiene has become challenging or is no longer important
  • Medications are not taken as directed or taken at all
  • Your loved one forgets to eat or has difficulty preparing meals
  • Your loved one has falls, tends to wander, or has eloped

What can be gained by making that next step? For your loved one, there is the following: 

  • Dignity and quality of life. A memory care community ensures a quality of life that we all deserve.
  • Social interaction. This has been proven to keep those afflicted by dementia happy and at their best for a longer period.
  • Custom Healthcare. Person centered care means that your loved one gets the exact care they need when they need it.
  • Continuing activities and new life interests. Life Enrichment teams insure that their residents have plenty to do on a daily basis and will expose your loved one to new 

Activities that they may never have tried before. Painting, Gardening, Bingo and Arts & Crafts are all regular occurrences in a Memory Care Community.

  • Calm and Reassuring support. Trained caregivers know how to support and guide your loved one even under the most difficult of circumstances. 
  • Safety. Memory Care Communities are places that are specifically designed to help protect your loved one and to decrease their risk of harm.

There are wonderful benefits for the caregiver as well. Most important are the following:

  • Restoring the natural balance of the relationship. Taking the caregiving out of a person’s  role and allowing them to once again be the spouse or child, relieves them of a huge burden. 
  • Reduced stress worry and guilt. Caring for a loved one can be an exhausting and stressful experience. Often, it is driven by guilt or fear and, once this role has been removed by a quality care facility, the caregiver can simply enjoy quality time with their loved one. 

The biggest mistake that many families make when considering a Memory Care Community is that they wait too long to make the move. Often, families will reach out only after their loved one has wandered off when no one was looking, fallen, and been hospitalized with a serious injury or the caregiver has finally reached their breaking point. 

Help is available before a crisis occurs. For more information on various forms of dementia, support services for the caregiver or for assistance in finding a community that will best serve you, contact us at https://www.northwoodsmemorycare.com/contact-us/. We are always here to help.