One of the hardest decisions caregivers will have to make is when their loved one with memory loss should be placed into care. When should this occur? When can he or she no longer live safely at home? Should your loved one go into memory care before it’s absolutely necessary, or should you continue to wait? There is no one right decision – the answer will depend on the individual patients and caregivers.
“Logically, while you know that your loved one would greatly benefit from the care and attention they would receive in a memory care community, it can feel almost like a betrayal,” says Ann Zak, Executive Director of Chatham Place at Mary Wade, New Haven County’s newest and preferred senior living community. “Family caregivers, especially those who are adult children of the individual, may feel guilty because they’ve promised their parents not to place them in a home. They may feel like they’ve failed because they can no longer care for their loved ones. However, placing someone with dementia into care should not be looked at as a failure on your part. Rather, it’s a sign of deep caring and compassion.”
Ann says that there comes a time in every dementia patient’s journey when they will require around-the-clock, long-term care. “It’s simply not possible for family caregivers to provide this 100-percent care living at home without significantly harming themselves and their health,” she explains. “In a memory care community, residents live in a place that’s safe and secure, designed with their specific needs in mind to provide the very best quality care. The community is also staffed with professional caregivers around the clock, providing more care, assistance and attention than family members can provide. Our goal at Chatham Place is to be a caring home for individuals with dementia so they can live a healthy, fulfilled and enjoyable life while providing peace of mind for family members.”
What Are the Benefits of Memory Care for Individuals with Dementia?
Most individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have other underlying health problems that require them to take various medications throughout the day to remain as healthy as possible. People with dementia, especially those in the early stages, may run the risk of over- or under-dosing because they may forget they’ve taken their medications previously. In a memory care unit, medications are carefully registered and are professionally managed by trained staff.
Assistance with the activities of daily living.
Dementia is a progressive disease that eventually takes away an individual’s physical as well as mental abilities. This can become difficult and dangerous for patients and family caregivers, who may find it difficult to provide mobility, toileting and bathing. Care facility staff are carefully trained to help manage these activities of daily living (ADLs) safely and securely.
Safety from wandering.
Individuals with dementia can run the risk of wandering out of the home and away from their caregivers. Many private homes are also not equipped to manage the unique needs of people with dementia, and there may be safety hazards that could cause a loved one to trip, fall or otherwise hurt themselves. A memory care community is a secured environment, allowing residents to move about without the risk of getting lost or injured. The community is also designed with safety features and cues that help those with dementia safely and more easily navigate throughout the community successfully.
Less stress for caregivers.
Caregiving is an incredibly stressful job, no matter how young and healthy you may be. When stress is allowed to build up and go on for a long period of time, it causes health issues like hypertension, a dampened immune system and potentially even caregiver burnout. All these things are bad for your health as a caregiver and make it that much more challenging to provide good care for a loved one with dementia. Moving a loved one into memory care helps remove that stress from the caregiver’s shoulders and instead gives them space and time to care for themselves and nurture the existing relationship they have with their loved one.
When Is It Time? Questions To Ask.
There’s no such thing as “too soon” when it comes to moving an individual with dementia into memory care. The sooner an individual moves into a community, the easier it is for them to identify the community as “home.” It also gives them the best care as soon as possible, which can help stall or slow the progression of dementia. If you’re wondering whether it’s time to place your loved one with dementia into memory care, here are some questions to ask.
Is managing your loved one’s medication becoming more difficult?
When you’re a family caregiver, it’s your responsibility to make sure your loved one’s medication is being administered and taken correctly. It’s also often your responsibility to coordinate visits and questions with multiple medical professionals. This can quickly become a full-time job in and of itself. A memory care community can help reduce that work and stress on your behalf and make sure your loved one’s medications are being administered properly.
Is your loved one’s mobility becoming worse?
Moving a grown adult about the house, helping them get dressed, bathing them and helping them to the toilet can be difficult and dangerous, especially if you are smaller or have health issues of your own. Caregivers run the risk of hurting themselves and their loved ones when the disease progresses to a certain point. At a memory care community, multiple staff members can assist in order to provide extreme stability and safety while helping your loved one be as mobile as possible. Their private rooms are also designed for optimum safety.
Are you afraid your loved one will wander and get lost?
Wandering can be a life-threatening situation, and even if you have secured the house carefully (which can become expensive), it only takes an instant for your loved one to get out and get lost. However, at a memory care community, the entrances and exits are secured at all times, so your loved one never runs the risk of getting lost or hurt.
Are you becoming burned out or experiencing health issues of your own?
Caregivers often push their own needs to the side while caring for a loved one. But it’s not selfish to take care of yourself. In fact, it’s essential for you to be the best caregiver possible. Moving a person with dementia into memory care takes the burden of caregiving off your shoulders and allows you to return to the relationship you had previously: a spouse, a friend or a child. Choosing to move your loved one into a community because you’re exhausted and stressed isn’t a selfish reason – in fact, it’s the very best possible thing you could do for them.
No matter who you are, you want your loved one with dementia to receive the best care possible so they can live a high quality of life. Moving them into a memory care community, although emotionally fraught, can be the single best way to provide that care.
Chatham Place at Mary Wade – Now Pre-Leasing!
Chatham Place at Mary Wade provides full-spectrum senior care with a holistic approach. Providing assisted living and memory care options, our devoted team of caregivers and specialists are committed to providing one-on-one, personalized care in a warm and supportive environment while also receiving the best care in the country. Our philosophy of personal service and gentle care remains steadfast and resolute, just as it was at our founding in 1886.
Opening in late summer 2021, Chatham Place will offer exceptional senior living options in a warm and inviting atmosphere. This new, state-of-the-art community will have 84 apartments designed to meet today’s safety, security and comfort standards. As part of the Mary Wade campus, we will continue the legacy of exceptional service, truly resident-centered care and access to world-class healthcare services.
For more information, please call (203) 423-3293.