Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are progressive in nature. Therefore, an individual’s symptoms will become more pronounced and increasingly evident over time. Although the disease can progress at different rates among different people, the continued decline in one’s mental and physical capabilities is inevitable and irreversible. While extensive research continues toward solving the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease, there is currently no known cure.
Considering Your Options
Many experts agree that due to the progressive effects of the disease, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia will eventually require more care and support than can be appropriately provided within the home setting.
It is most often during the middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease when it becomes necessary to provide 24-hour supervision to keep a person with dementia safe. As the disease progresses, care requirements become more intensive. Making the decision to move a loved one to a memory care community may be difficult, but it is not always possible to continue providing the level of care and supervision needed at home.
Ultimately, it is all about what is best for the person with memory loss. At-home caregivers must make choices that are in the best interests of their loved one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being—as well as their own. Despite possibly feeling an initial sense of guilt, many caregivers find that making the difficult decisions about their loved one’s care provides a welcome relief to the daily challenges and stresses of being a full-time caregiver.
Tips for Choosing the Right Residential Memory Care Community for Your Loved One
Memory care communities or communities with specialized memory care neighborhoods can be an ideal solution for those who require a substantial amount of care and supervision. However, it is important to do the appropriate research to assure you select the community that will make both you and your loved one the most comfortable. There are several important factors to consider in making this decision, including:
- Programs and Services— Are there appropriate health and behavioral care services, regular planned activities and recurring care planning sessions? Is there a focus on resident engagement?
- Environment—Do residents appear well cared for? Are rooms and common areas spacious, safe, and clean? Is there a family visiting area? Can residents bring favorite items with them?
- Staffing— Do staff members have the proper tools, training and perspective to care for the special needs of those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss? Are privacy, respect and dignity a clear priority?
- Meals—Is the food nutritious and appetizing and are there regular meal and snack times? Are family members and friends welcome to dine with their loved ones?
- Family Involvement—Are you encouraged to be part of your loved one’s life and care planning, as well as to communicate as often as needed with staff?
- Policies and Procedures— Can families participate in their loved one’s care and activities? Are visiting hours family-friendly?
Taking time to evaluate your options is well worth the effort. You’ll find that the best communities offer a wide range of treatments, services and amenities that address a resident’s mental, physical and emotional well-being through best-practice care, a philosophy of respect and dignity, and social engagement activities that stimulate the mind. Knowing your loved one is in the best possible environment provides peace of mind and confidence.
Help Is Available for Caregivers
Today, a variety of resources are available to assist caregivers who are caring for loved ones at home, including Alzheimer’s Association services, support groups, self-help guides, respite care services, in-home support, community-based services and educational programs. Communities with dedicated memory care neighborhoods offer quality care and specialized support around the clock, along with a variety of educational programs and special events that can help families connect and engage with their loved ones on a daily basis.