By Matt Burg, Sugar Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a crystal ball? Or some advice from your future self? To have some way of knowing which decisions are the right ones, and at which time to make them. We always seem to say to ourselves, “If only I knew then, what I know now.”
Truth is, that it’s hard to navigate many decisions in life, some more than others. One such decision is how and when to handle the transition of the loved one into Memory Care. For those of us working in long-term care, many have a direct connection to Alzheimer’s Disease or related dementia. Our founder, Jerry Erwin, is connected to Alzheimer’s through his mother, Margaret, whose experience inspired him to found Sinceri Senior Living and focus on serving those affected by memory loss.
These personal connections mean that our team can empathize with families and provide solutions to the unique challenges of caring for elderly parents and loved ones at home. When considering senior care advisors, home care agencies, and community aged care packages, all of the logistics can be overwhelming. Our team is here to help families navigate this unfamiliar and sometimes challenging process, of moving a loved one into a memory care community.
But how can you recognize that a loved one needs to be placed in a Memory Care community? To help with this, we’ve prepared a checklist and cost comparison tool which will allow you to identify whether a loved one would be a good fit for a Memory Care community. This checklist reviews the following and will help assist in your decision making:
- Orientation and Recognition
- Tasks and Ambulation
- Fear and Anxiety
- Personal and Dietary
- Depression and Aggressiveness
Orientation and Recognition
Does your loved one struggle to remember recent events or even significant milestones from their past? Do they frequently forget which day it is, or lose awareness of the time of day? These are examples of challenges with orientation or the reference of using surroundings to find one’s relative position. For those who struggle with declining orientation, they may even wander or get lost from their lack of awareness of their surroundings.
If a loved one starts to lose the ability to identify their surroundings like, which home is theirs, or which neighborhood they live in, this could be a sign of lack of recognition. Those affected by memory loss can even decline to the point of losing the ability to recognize familiar people like friends and family members.
Tasks and Ambulation
Does your loved one start things, but forget to finish them? Do they quickly lose focus and get distracted when asked to concentrate on completing a task? Are they unable to follow verbal instructions or directions? Noticing that someone struggles to complete tasks that were routine for them previously, is a strong indication that something is amiss.
More severe signs arise when loved ones may display unusual gait or cadence to their movement. This could be evidenced by shuffling their feet or moving at a faster than usual pace. Some may even begin sitting down inappropriately, or without warning in the middle of walking. These are signs of ambulation issues and may progress to the point of loss of balance and even falls.
Fear and Anxiety
Does your loved one ask the same question over and over again? Are they restless, suspicious, or accusative? Do they see or hear things that are not there?
These anxieties and fears are common with memory loss. The way that the disease process affects the brain can make it difficult for those affected to self-soothe, especially when they are experiencing visual and auditory hallucinations.
Personal and Dietary
Has your loved one lost their social awareness? Do they say or do things that are not always appropriate? Are they also struggling with personal hygiene and bathing? These personal issues can stem from a lack of recognition and orientation.
By not realizing the day or time, it can be difficult to recognize regular patterns and schedules that were previously followed. This can also display in the dietary habits of a loved one through decreased appetite, or even forgetting to eat meals. In later disease stages, it can be common for those affected by memory loss to attempt to eat non-edible items.
Depression and Aggressiveness
Signs of depression may be obvious, or in some cases more subtle. Some of the more obvious signs include crying and being tearful; talking little or not at all; appearing anxious or worried, sad, or depressed. Subtle signs can include spending long periods of time inactive or in isolation and dwelling on the past.
When a loved one is struggling with depression, it can be incredibly difficult to reach them, or connect in ways that were previously meaningful to them. In some cases, residents may even respond with frustration or aggressiveness to those around them.
Aggressiveness can be displayed in many ways, however, a few things to look out for are: hitting, scratching or biting; destroying property or personal belongings; or engaging in dangerous behaviors.
If your loved one is displaying examples of the criteria above, Sugar Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center has a helpful Family Assessment tool that they can share with you. This tool can be used to help guide discussions with your family physician and create a roadmap forward. Checking five or more boxes on the Family Assessment indicates that your loved one may benefit from our Memory Care Program.
A better day for both you and your loved one can be just around the corner.
If you would like a copy of the Family Assessment Tool, please contact Kristyn Durre, Community Resource Director, at Sugar Creek Alzheimer’s Special Care Center located at 505 E. Vernon Ave. in Normal, IL. Learn why Sugar Creek is the leader in Memory Care services in Central Illinois. Check them out by visiting their website at www.sugarcreekalz.com or check them out on Facebook.
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