When you are providing in-home care for a mom or dad or other loved one, there comes a point when you realize that he or she needs a level and type of memory care you are no longer able to provide. You may not talk about it, but the nagging feeling doesn’t go away.
For a loved one impaired with a dementia or Alzheimer’s, putting off taking action can be harmful. For one thing, the odds increase that something may happen to your loved one, when you’re not there. But that’s not the only reason. Research is opening the doors to new and innovative techniques in memory care. The sooner your loved one can take advantage of this, the better.
But it’s easier said than done. It’s hard to be objective when it comes to our loved ones. So it’s important to get input from those who have devoted their professional lives to memory care. Here are the warning signs they recommend you look for that signal it is time to seriously consider making a move for your loved one:
- Leaving the stove burner on.
- Forgetting to turn bath water off.
- Forgetting to clean up a spill.
- Leaving the front or back door open.
- Any situation which causes you to remark “I’m glad we caught that, he/she could have [fill in the blank]!”
Personal care limitations:
- Forgetting to take medications or taking the wrong dosage.
- Not able to handle basic hygiene: brushing teeth, combing hair, bathing, changing for bedtime, changing clothes regularly.
- Becoming more fearful of routine activities, such as taking a walk.
- Becoming more suspicious of neighbors and people who come to help.
- Becoming unusually combative and angry over small things.
Changes to your own mental and physical wellbeing:
- Physical exhaustion; getting sick more often.
- Not caring for your own personal needs.
- Mood swings; easily upset by others.
- Depression and a sense of hopelessness.
- A sense of total lack of control.
- Anger at your loved one, accompanied by guilt.
Really, the best time to start looking into memory care is when you first get that nagging feeling that you need to. Your own instincts are the best indicator. No one is closer to the circumstances than you are. Taking some initial steps based on your instincts will give you time to sort through all the options and “get the conversation started” before conditions force you to. It isn’t easy, but it may be the most important act of love you provide for your loved one, and for yourself.