Having some memory loss is a natural part of aging. Beyond the everyday annoyance of forgetfulness, according to the National Institute on Aging, is a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Even this is a common condition and doesn’t necessarily indicate something more serious. But your loved one’s cognitive impairment is one key factor to weigh when deciding to move from assisted living to memory care.
Not all cognitive impairment indicates dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But when these conditions do arise, it may be time to consider memory care. Find out more about what cognitive impairment is common and easy to deal with, and what is a more serious indicator when it is time for memory care.
What Is Common Memory Loss vs. Dementia?
Having trouble with remembering names and dates is a common age-related condition, but it isn’t typically something to worry about. The NIA says that to help those dealing with forgetfulness, make sure they:
- Don’t drink alcohol to excess
- Exercise and eat well
- Get plenty of rest
- Learn a new skill
- Put their wallet or purse, keys and glasses in the same place each day
- Seek help if they feel depressed for weeks at a time
- Spend time with family and friends
- Stay involved in activities that can help both the mind and body
- Use memory tools such as write-on calendars, notes and to-do lists
- Volunteer in their community, at a school or at a place of worship
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia are more serious conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, dementia describes a group of symptoms affecting memory and the ability to think clearly. Dementia also causes disruptions in behavioral and social skills. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60% to 80% of cases.
The NIA compares normal aging-related memory loss with the realities of Alzheimer’s disease:
|Normal Aging||Alzheimer’s Disease|
|Making poor decisions once in a while||Making bad decisions and judgments a lot of the time|
|Missing a monthly payment||Difficulties taking care of monthly bills|
|Forgetting which day it is but remembering later||Losing track of the date or time of year|
|Sometimes forgetting which word to use||Trouble having a conversation|
|Occasionally losing things||Often misplacing things being unable to find them|
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More serious cognitive impairment may indicate dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Those with Alzheimer’s or dementia have other symptoms besides simple memory loss. Some of the more serious psychological changes that dementia patients exhibit, according to the Mayo Clinic, include:
- Inappropriate behavior
- Personality changes
If somebody is exhibiting these behaviors, it is important to visit a doctor for a firm diagnosis. It also may be time to consider memory care at a senior community.
When Is it Time for Memory Care?
During the early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, many patients can live on their own or with in-home support from family members or a paid caregiver.
There can be a point, however, when you may need to make the difficult decision to seek memory care for your loved one. Here are some questions, from the AARP, to help you decide as a caregiver whether it’s time to move a loved one to memory care:
- Are you becoming impatient, irritable and stressed?
- Are you beyond your physical abilities in caring for your loved one?
- Are you worrying constantly about your loved one’s safety, or your own safety?
- Are you neglecting work responsibilities, your family and yourself?
- Are you risking the health of your loved one, or yourself?
- Would the social interaction and structure of a memory care community help?
Other factors should be taken into consideration, such as the loved one exhibiting changes in behavior, hygiene, disorientation, wandering and incontinence.
While not all of these points need to be met, caregivers will know in their gut when it is time for a memory care facility. Memory care communities can give your loved one the care and environment they need.
What Is Memory Care?
Independent living and assisted living are two levels of oversight and care for aging adults. They offer professional staff, dining and other amenities to meet different levels of needs.
Memory care is a different level of care for those with cognitive impairment, ranging from MCI to dementia to Alheimer’s. The amenities and surroundings offered are intended to help these residents find comfort, safety and peace when memory care is needed.
Memory care communities provide:
- Personal care
- Cleaning and laundry
- Meals and nutrition
- Pet-friendly places
A Special Program of Care for Seniors
Another level of assistance is Senior Lifestyle’s award-winning “embrace” Memory Care. This program, available at some Senior Lifestyle communities, offers specialized programs to help seniors with dementia live fulfilling lives.
The programs Included in “embrace” are customized according to these dimensions of wellness:
- MOVE (Physical) – Physical activity, nutrition, and health education to encourage self care of the body
- GROW (Intellectual) – Stimulation and use of one’s mind
- FEEL (Emotional) – Experiences that provide support, increase self-esteem, and provide fun
- REFLECT (Spiritual) – Connection to the human spirit and helping us find meaning
- CONNECT (Social) – Development of relationships that provide a deeper connection and opportunity to nurture each other
- CONTRIBUTE (Vocational) – Volunteer pursuits that help residents to reach out to each other and outside the community
Learn More About Senior Lifestyle’s Care Offerings
To learn more about when someone needs memory care, “embrace,” or any of the programming available at a Senior Lifestyle community near you, contact us today.