There are over 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, yet it’s always been a sensitive subject to discuss with an aging loved one.
It also often takes longer to diagnose because people hide their memory struggles or shake it off as forgetfulness.
That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs of possible memory loss.
The Alzheimer’s Association’s 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Alzheimer’s checklist is a great resource for at-home monitoring. It’s important to remember that having one or two of the signs — such as difficulty completing tasks or ongoing trouble with communication — can come with typical aging.
However, if someone is checking off multiple symptoms and it is becoming disruptive to their everyday life, it is recommended they visit their doctor for more information or to be evaluated.
Along with understanding the potential signs of memory loss, it’s important to understand the importance of memory care and if it’s on the horizon. There are many options when it comes to memory care such as in-home services, day programs, stand-alone memory care or continuing care retirement communities.
Many families choose to explore several of these options to see what is the best fit for their family member’s situation, but most find stand-alone memory care and senior living communities with continuing care to be the most accommodating. These facilities have 24-hour care with specialized staff, memory care activities, medication management, therapies, meals and more that will allow the resident to have continual directed care.
So, how do you know when it is time to consider memory care?
If you are noticing your loved one is regularly neglecting their hygiene or unable to perform daily tasks such as showering or brushing their teeth it is likely time to evaluate their level of care.
If a person is beginning to wander outside or there is potential trip or fall risks in their home, it could be time to make the transition to memory care where they have staff available to help.
The decision for memory care is usually up to the family and is often based on finances, but if balancing your own needs, as the primary caregiver, becomes a challenge or you experience burnout it might be time for a change in care plan.
It is recommended to start memory care sooner than later before moderate to serve dementia sets in.
This early intervention will allow the person to receive important therapies that could slow cognitive decline, adjust to their new home and lifestyle change, and to meet new friends.
There are many signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia, so do the research and start early.
There are online and in person resources where you can learn more about memory care. If you are concerned, it may be time for your loved one to visit a neurologist.
Families are also encouraged to visit local senior living communities that specialize in assisted living programs, and memory care services so they can learn more about how continuing care can help their loved ones.
Learn more at sagewoodlcs.com.
Editor’s note: Dannis Murphy is assistant director of assisted living and memory care manager at Sagewood.
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