As our loved ones grow older, the care paradigm shifts and adult children often times become the caretakers of their parents, grandparents, and other elderly family members. Any kind of healthcare responsibility can be challenging, but when a family unit encounters memory loss in the elderly, there are unique obstacles that can be difficult, sometimes seemingly impossible, to deal with. When this occurs, it may be time to consider moving your loved one suffering with memory loss to a memory care-specific senior living setting.
While never an easy task, transitioning your loved one to a memory care center can be made a bit easier with some research and guidance. American Orchards is a wonderful memory care center in Gilbert, AZ, and our senior living services would like to share some insight and tips with you.
Signs and Symptoms of Dementia
You probably first want to know what dementia is and how to identify it. Dementia is a syndrome, a combination of symptoms with no specific diagnosis. For example, dementia is a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease. It affects cognitive tasks such as memory recall and the ability to reason, which are essential for everyday life.
It can be a little tricky deciding if your loved one’s symptoms are just a sign of growing older or actual dementia. It really just depends on the degree to which the issues are affecting their quality of life, and yours. Signs of dementia to watch for are:
- Diminished motor skills
- Sleep complications
- Shortened attention span
- Inability to concentrate or comprehend
- Agitated by minor issues
- Interrupted bodily functions
Difficulties Your Loved One May Face When Relocating
Most anyone will exhibit some level of stress when facing a life change like relocation. For your loved one experiencing memory loss, the difficulties will be compounded. Your loved one may experience shock, anger, and sadness at having to relinquish their autonomy and everything that is familiar to them, and then go through the same cycle again upon forgetting what has already happened. They may also experience bouts of intense loneliness without easy access to the people they were close to or most familiar with, along with anxiety about adapting to the new environment and lifestyle.
This stress can even cause physical ramifications. For example, if becoming injured during this time of upheaval, the added stress can greatly exacerbate the symptoms of the injury. They may also be affected by physiological symptoms such as weight loss or weight gain, indigestion, nausea, sleeplessness, lack of appetite, and rapid heartbeat. That’s why it’s important to be with them every step of the way and to choose the right memory care center carefully.
What You Should Know About Your Memory Care Center
We understand that this is a troubling time and there is so much to consider. Start your research on finding the best memory care center for your loved one by answering these questions:
- What is the patient to staff ratio?
- What is the background of all staff and faculty? This goes beyond just medical staff; you want to feel confident that your loved one will be safe and comfortable around all team members.
- What is their hiring practice? What do they require?
- What kind of continued assessment do they do of staff, facilities, and the program in general?
- Which safety and security measures do they employ? Ask about their video monitoring, egress security, fall management protocol, and even power back-up. These are all important to the well-being of your family or loved one.
- What types of activities for dementia patients in assisted living do they offer? You want activities available that will match the interests of your loved one. Some common therapies are art, music, animal, exercise, and meditation.
- American Orchards also provides amenities such as aquariums, water features, an outdoor garden area, and an indoor nature room.
How to Ease the Transition to a Memory Care Center
Resign yourself to the fact that this is going to be one of the toughest things you will ever do in life, and that there will be good days and bad days, accomplishments and setbacks. The good news is there are many things you can do to make the transition easier on all of you.
Accompany your loved one on various visits, as many as possible before moving day. Go for a meal or a special event. While visiting, point out cool activities or areas and share your excitement. If you think it’s great, they will too.
If possible, coordinate a weekend or respite visit when your family member can spend a night or two. They will become familiar with the facility, its staff, and other residents.
Make sure you have yourself prepared so you can be there as your loved one transitions into the memory care center. Keep the following points in mind as you plan ahead:
- If you work, save some personal time, not just for moving day, but also for the days before and after so you can be available as complications arise.
- Start budgeting early to cover move-in expenses, cost of items needed, and keep a reserve for future needs.
- Determine your loved one’s best time of day and coordinate the move for that time.
- Comprise a list of all of your loved one’s medications and medical procedures to share with the memory care center.
- Get someone your loved one trusts and likes to spend time with to be with them on moving day.
Other Quick Tips
There are many more things that can be done, so let us summarize them for you in a bullet point list:
- Provide as much detail about your family member or friend as you can. Likes, dislikes, triggers, interests, hobbies, their medical history, and their life story. The more the care team knows, the better they can relate to your loved one and keep the memory care patient’s new situation calm and comfortable.
- Visit regularly, but do not crowd them. They need time to adjust to their new situation.
- Take notes on comments and actions. It will help identify problems and aid in making necessary changes.
- Label their belongings.
- Try to set up their new living space to resemble that from which they are moving. Set up their favorite chair by the TV. If they have a photo that hangs by the door at their old home, hang it by the door in their new one.
- Use visual cues to help them navigate their new surroundings. Decorate their door with important mementos to help them identify their living space.
American Orchards Memory Care Center
Through our “Pathways of Promise” memory care program in Gilbert, AZ, we address the myriad of issues that befall dementia and memory loss patients. In addition to medical care, American Orchards will supplement your loved one’s daily life with activities customized to their interests.
We have multiple therapeutic additions such as aquariums and garden areas, and our Nature Room was designed through the results of an extensive scholarly study. Your loved one’s dining experience will even be customized to meet dietary needs, but also provide as much comfort and happiness as possible.
We are here for you and your family. Contact us today with your questions and concerns about our assisted living community, or to schedule a tour of our beautiful memory care center.