When is the right time for a move to memory care?

Every individual living with memory loss is unique, as is their situation. The timing for a move to memory care that works for one family may not be right for another. While situations and family dynamics differ, there are factors which should be taken into account when considering a move.

1. Will the person benefit cognitively from a memory care program?

Many families wait too long to make the move to memory care. While the progression of memory loss most typically can’t be reversed, a solid, evidenced based program will help the individual stay as cognitively intact as possible for as long as possible. The sooner an individual enters a memory care program, the longer quality of life may be preserved.

2. Is the person’s current living environment appropriate and safe?

While being in a familiar setting can be comfortable to an individual with memory loss, it might not provide the best long-term situation to allow for changes in both physical and cognitive capabilities.

  • Would a structured program with a secure environment benefit the person living with memory loss?
  • Is there a concern that the individual might leave the home and not remember how to get back?
  • Is there easy access to an automobile? Is there potential for the individual experiencing memory loss to cause a harmful situation when not supervised, such as leaving stove burners on, doors or windows open or water running in a tub or sink?

It’s also important to evaluate the environment from the caregiver’s perspective. Homes with stairs, difficult to access bathrooms, and easy egress points may provide complications for a caregiver.

3. Have medical professionals, family or friends suggested that it’s time for a move?

It can be difficult to see a loved one’s experience with memory loss objectively. Have others noticed a decline in cognitive ability? In addition to cognitive issues, there may be physical concerns such as incontinence which present not only a loss of dignity for the person with dementia, but an additional challenge for the caregiver.

4. Are people expressing concerns about the caregiver’s health and wellbeing?

It’s important to consider the caregiver’s physical, psychological and emotional state in decisions regarding memory care as an illness or “burnout” may prompt a move.

  • Are there reliable support systems and other resources available to the caregiver?
  • Does the caregiver have regular opportunities to take breaks and look after their own wellbeing? It is often difficult and expensive to find dependable and trustworthy help.
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