When a parent receives a diagnosis of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, everything changes. Adult children are faced with making decisions they thought they wouldn't need to make for another five or ten years. The status quo has been disrupted.
For many, the goal becomes to keep mom or dad in their home as long as possible. And it’s understandable, given the desire they have to remain in a familiar environment, surrounded by the things and people they love. However, as your parent becomes more impaired by the disease, that environment will eventually fail to keep pace with their needs.
With that in mind, here are five key areas where a memory care environment can keep pace with your loved one’s needs as well as provide many added benefits. These are important points to consider as you begin the process of evaluating what’s best for your mom or dad:
- Safety: As your loved one’s dementia progresses, simple things like turning off the stove or water faucet become difficult to remember. Furthermore, rugs, furniture, sharp objects; all can become hazards for someone challenged by dementia. Newer memory care communities, such as Anthem Memory Care communities, have been built from the ground up to provide safe, secure spaces for individuals with dementia.
- Health: How can you be certain that mom is getting all the nutrients she needs daily? What signs should you be looking for that could indicate her dementia has progressed? How are her other health needs being taken care of? Does she have access to new medications that might be more effective? A memory care community is dedicated to answering those questions. They have trained professionals and access to the latest technologies and therapeutic techniques.
- Exercise: It can be difficult to get dad to walk around the house, let alone outside. Is he getting regular exercise to increase the flow of oxygen to his brain and keep his muscles toned and joints flexible? Memory care communities encourage mobility with programs that are calibrated to meet each individual’s ability level.
- Socialization: For individuals with dementia, isolation can accelerate the disease along with the decline of speech ability and other cognitive functions. Memory care communities provide ample opportunities for socialization with other residents as well as bringing in students and animals to create an environment that keeps those connections as strong as possible.
- Peace of mind: Family caregivers regularly tell us that they feel a greater peace of mind knowing that their mom or dad is in a safe, supportive memory care environment. When they visit, they feel more relaxed, knowing that their loved one is getting the care they need, along with regular socialization, exercise and the best medication program.
While keeping a loved one at home for “as long as possible” may feel like a loving, caring thing to do, it is important to step back and evaluate what is really best for your parent. It is important to weigh the benefits of having your mom or dad in an environment created specifically to serve those challenged by dementia, versus a once-familiar environment that can no longer keep pace with his or her needs. A healthy, safe environment, supported 24/7 by experienced, compassionate caregivers can provide many benefits to your loved one and to your family.