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3 Questions to Ask About Memory Care

With nearly 44 million people worldwide suffering from a cognitive decline, the chances of your spouse or an aging parent needing some type of care solution are great. However, only about 25% of people have been given an actual diagnosis for a memory loss related disease (Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc.)

How do you know when it’s time to seek help for memory loss?

Memory care is a residential facility or an in-home caregiver for seniors who have been diagnosed with late-stage or rapidly declining dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, or who may be a danger to themselves due to memory loss. A memory care community can be as small as a private home with only a few residents, as large as a wing or dedicated area within an assisted living facility or nursing home, visiting a daily adult day care, or a private caregiver who works in the home of the patient.

Because memory care is such a broad topic, here are three questions you should ask yourself when starting to research care solutions for your aging loved one.

1.) What are the needs?

Identifying the needs of your aging spouse or parent is the first step in the memory care journey. Most often your loved one’s physician will be able to help you with identifying the physical and mental hurdles that may exist. Make sure to include other family members in on the conversation, as their perspective can often bring to light to an emotionally charged situation. Memory care patients need a very gentle and compassionate care person, so it’s important that the community or in-home caregiver you select has experience with memory care patients.

Memory care can be offered at many different levels within senior housing. Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, retirement communities, group homes, and continuing care communities may all offer memory care areas within their walls. This is helpful in keeping seniors in one community even as their level of care changes.

2.) What services are required?

Once you have identified your family’s needs you will now have a clear direction on what to start looking for as you research care options. Some general services for memory care that are offered in most cases are meal preparation, housekeeping, laundry, personal grooming, medication adherence, companionship, transportation, exercise programs, social events, and medical care. In the early and middle stages of memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s Disease, some seniors can function somewhat independently and do not need 24-hour support, so it is beneficial to have all of these services available. As the disease progresses into its final stages, 24-hour care is usually required.

3.) How do I find the best solution for my family?

When it comes down to it, you want to know how to find the best possible care solution that provides maximum benefit to your aging loved one but also works for the rest of the family. If your loved one needs to be moved to a community, online research is a great way to narrow down your search to a few standouts. If they require an in-home caregiver, using a senior placement agency is going to be your safest and surest avenue. Finances and the location of the community will also come into the decision making process.

Managing care for a loved one with memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease is difficult and at times can seem overwhelming. Remember that there are programs available to help you and your family, and using a senior placement agency can prove to be invaluable. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our experienced senior care coordinators today. Our services are always free to you and your family.

Stimulating Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients

When a loved one is suffering from cognitive declines such as Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, their natural tendency will be to withdraw from family, friends, and social events. Their gaps in memory or not being able to put a name to a familiar face leaves them feeling vulnerable, anxious, and sometimes depressed. It is important to remember even though their memories or mind may become confused over time, that just like the rest of us they still need love, compassion, and physical touch.

Adults suffering from cognitive decline also need to be stimulated mentally and challenged physically. This can be tricky because if their disease in its later stages they may not trust people to help them with these tasks, and the risk for depression goes up while their quality of life goes down.

As a few general rules, make sure to keep activities simple and to be willing to move on to something else if they become frustrated or angry. The goal is to engage with them in a positive way. Here are some tips to help find activities that are beneficial and enjoyable for aging adults with cognitive decline.

Identify Their Abilities

Before you can help your aging loved one with some activities they may enjoy, you first need to identify what they are capable of accomplishing. Are they able to have a conversation, walk short or long distances, perform fine motor skills tasks (button their shirt, open a door, zip a zipper, etc.), or follow written or verbal directions? Once you have determined what they can successfully participate in without getting frustrated, you will have a better idea of which activities to help them in.

Mental Stimulation

It’s important that the activities are not just time fillers or time wasters. Everyone finds much more satisfaction in completing tasks and activities that they find enjoyable, rather than something that someone else is forcing them to do. Utilizing skills and talents that the adult has past experience with is a sure way to bring a smile to their face. Some enjoyable mental activities can include working on children’s puzzles, knitting simple patterns, solving Suduko or crosswords, listening to a favorite music CD, listening to an audiobook or reading an actual book, or looking through family photo albums together.

Physical Exercise

It is very important for people of any age to have regular physical activity. Exercise has been proven to help beat depression, help promote better sleep at night, reduce stress and anxiety, and contribute to a general feeling of well being. Some easy, low impact activities include taking a walk, tossing a softball back and forth, practicing yoga or tai chi, gardening, and other light yard work, doing chores around the house, and swimming. If your aging loved one is unable to walk you may consider looking into stretches and exercises that can be done while sitting down. Don’t forget the power that a little bit of vitamin D and some fresh air can have on a person; make sure to go outside every day if weather permits.

Emotional Support

Most adults suffering from cognitive decline are very sensitive emotionally. A few ways this can manifest is anger, weepiness, anxiety, or depression. By connecting emotionally with the patient or loved one, you are bringing them comfort and a sense of peace they desperately need, and physical touch is a wonderful way to accomplish this. A hug, brushing their hair, soothing dry skin with lotion, or giving a manicure are just a few ways to make the patient feel more at ease. Some aging adults really enjoy feeling different textures, so it’s a good idea to have a few items that are soft, smooth, rough, or bumpy for them to feel.

Sometimes seniors connect with inanimate objects such as a favorite blanket, a stuffed animal, or a little baby doll. There are specially made animal ‘pets’ for dementia patients that move and make sounds that can often be very engaging for aging adults without the cleanup and responsibility of owning a live animal.

In the End

Caring for an adult with cognitive decline is really about trying new things, seeing what works, and then trying to stick to some sort of routine. They may not remember everything they did last week or even the day before, but consistency and perseverance will go a long way in bringing some comfort and stability to their ever-changing minds.

If you and your family need help or support in caring for an aging loved one with cognitive decline or memory loss, our experienced and compassionate care coordinators are only a phone call away. We understand wanting to make your loved one as comfortable as possible, and that is one of the reasons our services are always free to you and your family.

Dementia Care Guide

When an aging loved one is diagnosed with dementia it can feel like a heavy weight has been placed on your shoulders, especially if it is your spouse or a parent. What is the next step? How do you care or find care for someone with a cognitive disease? How do you pay for treatment or support? Take a deep breath and a few moments to read this quick reference to help guide you through caring for someone who has been diagnosed with dementia.

What exactly is dementia?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, dementia is, “a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.” Dementia can manifest itself in a few different ways including memory loss, visual problems, inability to focus or reason, and a decline in the ability to communicate.

It is important that a physician informs you of his or her opinion on how far the disease has progressed in your loved one. Cognitive decline has many levels and each person’s situation and ability will be unique to them. Though there is not yet a cure for cognitive decline, there are medications and lifestyle changes that can slow the progression for months or even years to ensure a better quality of life for the patient.

Types of Care

Depending on your budget, the needs of your aging loved one, and the support any family is able to give, you have a few different options for finding care for someone suffering from dementia.

  • In Home Care, A senior remains in their home and is cared for by a part or full-time caregiver. With new technology available, such as real-time location monitoring, smartphone surveillance, and senior safety tools, this option is becoming more manageable for some families. Home care can include a caregiver giving 24-hour care, day or night time care, care for a few visits a week, and skilled care. Finding the right caregiver for a memory loss patient is important to make sure to use a care coordinator or a senior placement company to help ensure safety, vetting, and the right personality fit.
  • Communities, Memory care can be offered at many different levels within senior housing. Assisted living facilities, nursing homes, retirement communities, group homes, and continuing care communities may all offer memory care areas within their walls. This is helpful in keeping seniors in one community even as their level of care changes. Most facilities can accommodate the different stages of memory loss and the symptoms that accompany it. Confusion is a key symptom in memory loss causing many seniors to wander around or forget where they are, posing a danger to themselves. Because of this most facilities have a secured area for memory care patients. This keeps them safe but also allows them the freedom to interact with others and move around within their secured area.
  • Adult Day Care This is exactly what it sounds like. Seniors are dropped off at a senior center or other location and are cared for as a group. There are usually activities and meals provided, and it can be paid for a half or full day program. This is a great option for family members who are caregivers who need a break once or twice a week.

For information on what programs and services are available to help pay for memory care visit us here.

For the family

Providing physical and emotional care for anyone can often be an exhausting, thankless job. It is important that the family members of the patient with dementia also take care of themselves because if not they may find themselves burnt out and frustrated. Caring for some with cognitive decline requires patience, compassion, and a flexible mindset. If a spouse or child is the primary caregiver, they are usually very emotionally invested and because of that, it can sometimes lead to an unhealthy perspective or relationship with the patient. This is why many families choose to hire a part or full-time caregiver.

If you or your family would like help to find the perfect caregiver for your aging loved one, or you simply have questions and don’t know where to begin, please reach out to one of our senior care coordinators. Our services are always free to you, and it is our pleasure to assist you in any way that we can.

Caregiving for a Loved One with Memory Loss

Realizing that your aging spouse or parent can no longer get through the day without help or support is a very difficult reality to live in. Whether the reasons are physical, mental, or a combination of the two, figuring out the next steps can be tricky and feel overwhelming. This is especially true with cognitive diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

You are definitely not alone. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, over 40 million Americans are caring for an adult age 65 and older, with most of those being a relative. What is even more alarming is that most of these caregivers are between the ages of 45-65 themselves. So during the season of life when they are finishing up careers, looking to retire, and possibly dealing with their own health problems, almost half of these same adults are caring for an aging spouse or parent.

Perhaps you find yourself in this grouping of people, or you can look to the near future and see that you soon will be. It is important to know what to expect so that you and your family be prepared emotionally, mentally, and financially. When an aging adult has been diagnosed with cognitive decline, it affects every other area of their life making the situation much more complex than someone who has broken a hip, has diabetes, or needs surgery. Here are a few steps to take if you are caring for a loved one with memory loss.

Talk about it

Caring for a family member with memory loss affects most other members of the family, so there should definitely be a conversation (or several) regarding a plan of action. At the meetings, there should be the primary caregiver, secondary caregivers, other family members, and perhaps notes or recommendations from a doctor. This is also a great time to discuss good practices and therapies available for memory care patients.

A few necessary discussion topics will be the weekly schedule (including breaks for the primary caregiver), finances and budget, placement (Can Mom or Dad stay in their home or do they need to move?), medications and dosages, and what to do as the disease progresses. In most cases, there comes a point where a medically trained professional needs to assist in the care at least part of the time.

It is important to revisit the care plan every so often, especially after your loved one has sustained an illness, injury, or if their condition deteriorates rapidly.

Take time for yourself

This is probably one of the hardest steps to take especially if you are the primary caregiver. Life is busy, the demands are relentless, and caregiving (whether you’ve chosen it or it has chosen you) is one of the most demanding situations to be in. The truth remains, however, that if you don’t take care of yourself you will most likely be unable to do so for someone else. You cannot give what you do not have.

Here are some necessary self-care guidelines.

  • Take time every day and every week away from your aging loved one. Every day. Arrange for another family member, a neighbor, or a hired in-home caregiver to relieve you for some time each day. Respite care and if your loved one is mobile, adult day care, are both great and inexpensive options to give yourself a much-needed break. Remember, your loved one may want a little time away from you too!
  • Do something you love. Music, reading, knitting, running, crafting, coffee with friends, hiking, or anything else you enjoy: do it often! You may use the excuse of not having enough time, but you need to make time to do the things you enjoy a few times a week. A happy caregiver equals a happier patient.
  • Exercise and eat well. This is something that everyone should be doing, but it’s especially true for caregivers. Exercise will energize you and help you sleep better, and good food choices will give you good fuel so you don’t burn out. Practicing good wellness habits will also keep your mind clear and your mood upbeat.

Ask for help

Even the most patient and compassionate human being feels burnt out and overwhelmed at times. You need to be comfortable asking for help, whether it’s from another family member or someone you hire out. If you don’t voice your need for a break, a second opinion on proposed treatment, or help paying the bills, it’s probable that no help will come your way.

If you don’t have any friends and family who can be of assistance to you, there are agencies who can provide advice and offer suggestions at no cost to you. Hiring a senior care coordinator to help manage the care of your aging loved one is a great first step in easing the weight that often accompanies caregiving for someone with memory loss.

If you have any questions about finding care and support for your aging loved one please reach out to us. Our experienced and compassionate senior care coordinators are available to answer any of your questions.

How do I Pay for Memory Care?

The cost of healthcare in America is astounding, and when you look at the cost of aging the numbers are even more alarming. This is partly due to the fact that Americans are living longer now than they ever have, and that includes seniors with debilitating illnesses and diseases.

Studies show that most aging adults want to age in place, that is, they want to remain in their own home as they grow older. For many families, this is a great alternative to an assisted living facility or a retirement community, but for others, the needs of their aging loved one are too great to support them staying at home.

Cognitive impairment and decline are steadily rising in the senior community and memory care offers a level of support to these aging adults who have been diagnosed with severe memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease. Whether you decide on hiring in-home care or placement in a memory care facility, paying for memory care can be expensive and even seem overwhelming. In California the average monthly cost of memory care is $4,900, however, there are resources available to help with the cost.

To see a helpful breakdown of the cost of memory care from the C.A.R.E study click here.

Here is what you need to know about paying for memory care:

Medicare

Does not pay for in-home care. Medicare will sometimes cover medical or psychiatric care that is administered within an assisted living facility or a nursing home. There are also more options available if a person is on hospice care living at home.

Medicaid

This program is run differently in every state and is for families and seniors with low income. It is much more flexible than Medicare but is harder to qualify for.

State and Local Non-Profits

There are many privately funded programs available to help families with the cost of senior health care. Most simply require a diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease to qualify.

Respite Care

These programs are designed to provide a break for family members that are caregiving for a loved one with cognitive impairment. Some are free of charge and others are offered at a reduced hourly rate.

Veterans

Veterans or spouses of veterans may be eligible for financial help from Aid and Attendance.

Personal or Property Income

Many families use pooled resources, the income from renting or selling a property, reverse mortgages, loans, or payouts from life insurance to help cover the cost of memory care.

For more detailed information on resources available to help pay for memory care click here.

Because the symptoms of memory loss vary greatly, a wide range of services in memory care can be found at each level. It is important to talk with your aging loved one’s doctor to identify the needs for your specific situation. Once you’ve done that you will have a clear direction on what memory care options are best for you and your family.

Most families will be able to use a combination of methods to pay for memory care, and a senior care coordinator can help you research and find the best way to manage your resources. Managing care for a loved one with memory loss, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease is a difficult and arduous process. Remember that there are programs available to help you and your family, and using a senior placement agency can provide valuable knowledge and experience to help you and your family make the right decision on your journey to find care for your aging loved one.

3 Signs it’s Time to Seek Help for Memory Loss

Memory loss and cognitive decline are natural and expected parts of the aging process. However, in some cases, cognitive decline and memory loss become so severe and debilitating that a person can become a danger to themselves and the people around them.

Memory loss in middle-aged adults is more common than you think.

You may have seen stories in the news about an elderly person gone missing and heard the pleas from families to aid in the search for their loved one. In some of these cases, the aging adult simply wandered out of their home and became lost, or was out running errands and forgot where they were or how to return home. These are extreme cases of cognitive decline, but they are rarely the first signs that manifest.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, but early detection and medications can help slow its progression. Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease are diagnosed and treated by a doctor, however, even without a diagnosis memory loss can be dangerous to a senior. It’s important to be able to identify signs of memory loss in your aging loved one and to know whether serious action should be taken to protect them.

Forgetting People

Forgetting the name of an old neighbor, teacher, or mailman is normal for aging adults, as is retelling the same stories over and over again. Forgetting the names or faces of relatives and friends seen on a regular basis or ‘living in the past’ is not considered normal. Has your aging loved one become suspicious of familiar and well-loved family and friends? Do they have trouble placing names with faces? Do they call you or other family members by the names of people who have died or are no longer apart of their lives? Sometimes seniors with severe cognitive impairment ‘see’ or ‘hear’ people in their home and will talk about them as if they are real.

Forgetting Places

Another sign of memory loss is when a senior forgets where they are or where they live. They may wander around their neighborhood, the store, or the parking lot in a confused daze. This is why memory care units or wings have locked doors with alarms alerting the staff when a resident has breached the safety of their assigned area. Seniors may also get into a car accident while driving because they are confused as to where they are or where they should be going. They may talk as if they are living in another decade, recalling the events and people as if it is the present time. It’s important to be compassionate and patient when someone is in this state of mind because to them it’s their reality.

Forgetting Responsibilities

This is perhaps the most common sign that cognitive decline has begun to reach a point where intervention is necessary. It can be tricky to identify it unless you are a spouse or child living with the aging adult because you may not be aware of all their habits and responsibilities.

  • Have you noticed expired or rotten food in the fridge or pantry?
  • How about unopened mail or unpaid bills piling up?
  • Does the elderly adult smell of body odor or urine?
  • Do they look unkempt, are they wearing the same clothes repeatedly, or are their clothes soiled?
  • Have they missed taking medications?
  • Have they consistently missed doctor’s appointments, social events, or other calendar items?
  • Are they consistently overspending at the store or not buying items they need?

These are all signs that there is an underlying issue and typically that issue is memory loss. Oftentimes seniors are aware that something is not right and so they try to hide the symptoms by making excuses or covering up their symptoms. It’s important to have honest and open communication with your aging loved one and their doctor because early detection of dementia or Alzheimer’s can greatly reduce the symptoms and provide a greater quality of life.

Coping with memory loss is never easy, but it can become easier with the right knowledge and tools at your disposal. For some great tips on how to deal with difficult dementia behaviors click here.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or confused by your aging loved one’s symptoms or behavior you may want to reach out to a senior care coordinator. They have experience and knowledge that can help you decide which step to take next, and they can also provide you with a free assessment of your situation to give further direction.