What Is Assisted Living
Assisted living is a type of housing for people who need help with some medical and personal care but can still handle some parts of daily living on their own.
Most facilities are designed to feel like home and encourage residents to be as independent as they can be. You and your loved one can choose the services you want the staff to take on and those your loved one can handle. Living spaces can be individual rooms, apartments, or shared quarters.
Assisted living services vary from place to place, but they usually include:
- One to three meals a day
- Social and recreational activities
Living Conditions Are Subpar
Early dementia can sometimes present itself as hoarding. If you see that your loved one is no longer caring for his or her home, mail is piling up, food is spoiled in the refrigerator, dishes are left out, and other household messes become uncontrollable, it may be time to move to memory care. Memory care communities include housekeeping and linen services, helping your loved one stay clean and well in their apartment home.
Your Loved One Has Unexplained Physical Changes
Weight changes, changes in posture, and mobility problems can all indicate that your loved one needs more assistance. It may be that your loved one is forgetting to eat, or that he or she forgot they already ate and are eating again. Slow movements may be an indicator of confusion or disorientation. Memory care communities will closely monitor your loved ones nutrition and wellness making sure that he or she is eating well.
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When Is It Time For Assisted Living
More than one million older adults reside in assisted living communities, according to the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living. These facilities offer access to 24-hour care for seniors who would benefit from some daily assistance but dont require skilled nursing or specialized dementia care.
Assisted living provides a good balance for individuals who need some assistance throughout the day, but who want to remain as independent as possible, says Barbara Levison, a geriatric care manager and the president of Floridas Aging Life Care Association chapter.
Is this popular care type the right fit for your senior loved one? Read on to learn key signs its time for assisted living.
Feel confident and prepared to tourThis downloadable guide helps you identify what to look for in a community and key questions to ask when you visit.
Tips On Transitioning A Loved One To Memory Dementia Or Alzheimer’s Care
As your loved ones memory declines, or as the effects of dementia or Alzheimers disease become too much for the family or caregivers to handle, you will have to make the decision to place her in memory, dementia, or Alzheimers care. After you have consulted your family and her healthcare professionals, made financial arrangements, and chosen your loved ones new home, you have to prepare for transitioning her to a new level of care. You understand the need for the move, but it still is difficult for you to accept the decision, and your emotions run even higher when you think about telling your loved one and anticipate moving day.
To help ease the transition for your loved one , we have rounded up 50 tips from caregivers, memory care facility administrators, dementia and Alzheimers experts, and others who have experience in working with seniors who require special care. Keep in mind that everyone handles the transition differently, and you will need to use the tips that best fit your loved ones personality and needs and your situation. Please note, our 50 tips for easing the transition to memory, dementia, or Alzheimers care are not listed in order of importance or value in any way rather, we have categorized them to help you find the tips that will be most useful to you.
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How Do Doctors Decide When Its Time For Memory Care
Often, seniors come in for regularly scheduled physical appointments and are hesitant to bring up memory problems, Branshaw says. Its almost always the kids who bring up memory, or its an uncovering process to find dementia signs.
During patient visits, Branshaw looks for red flags signaling Alzheimers disease or another form of dementia. Certain telltale characteristics can suggest that its time for memory care.
Looking at someone, you can sometimes see theyre not as tidily dressed, their hairs disheveled, or theyve lost significant weight because they forgot to eat, he says.
If a senior seems lost or agitated, or if they cant carry on a conversation, those are concerning signs. From there, doctors may ask questions about a seniors day-to-day life or perform a brief mental status exam.
Safety Concerns May Be Signs Its Time For Memory Care
Bringing up safety concerns is an important way to make family members aware of dementia behaviors, Branshaw says. He may ask relatives or caregivers if:
- Their elderly loved one is leaving burners or appliances on after cooking
- There have been any emergency room visits
- Their aging parent has any bruises they cant explain or dont remember getting
- Wandering or getting lost has put their loved one in dangerous situations
Ask yourself if your senior family members safety needs are being met, or if they could use extra help to avoid dangerous situations.
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How Far Have The Alzheimer’s Symptoms And Stages Progressed
Alzheimers disease has three stagespatients at each stage require different levels of care. A person diagnosed with Alzheimers usually lives another four to eight years after diagnosis but could live as long as 20 years. Early-stage Alzheimers patients can live relatively normal lives, although they may notice memory lapses, have difficulty organizing themselves and may struggle in particular with work or social settings. Patients at this stage can usually manage to stay in their own homes and may still have the legal capacity to make decisions about their future care preferences.
The next stage, moderate Alzheimers, can last for several years. Patients during this stage will have obvious symptoms, such as confusion, severe memory lapses, getting lost, and behavioral or personality changes, like delusions, suspicion, moodiness, changes in sleep patterns, and in some cases loss of bladder or bowel control.
Late stage Alzheimers symptoms can make a person unable to function and eventually lose control of movement. They need 24-hour care and supervision. They are unable to communicate, even to share that they are in pain, and are more vulnerable to infections, especially pneumonia.
Treat Your Caregiving Like A New Job
Some caretakers find that caring for a loved one with dementia is like a full-time job. A lot of time, attention and life changes can be needed to ensure the loved ones safety.
As with any job, plan by finding opportunities for short breaks. Talk with family members to see if they might be able to care for your loved one for the night. If that doesnt work, try researching other methods to avoid burnout.
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Memory Loss And Assisted Living Facilities
Many people with dementia and Alzheimers live in assisted-living facilities receiving specialized care and ongoing support. These dementia residents enjoy living in a community that provides continuing care, social interaction, and assistance in an individual residential apartment.
These residents often enjoy the best quality of life with access to fun social events, freshly cooked meals, and activities of daily living with nursing assistance in comfortable and pleasant living accommodations. An assisted-living center and senior living care facility are often the first step between living independently at home and moving into a nursing facility.
The federal government does not regulate assisted living facilities. Instead, numerous agencies provide state regulations, inspections, and surveys on assisted homes to minimize problems, including neglect, abuse, and mistreatment.
What Is The Final Stage Of Dementia
Alzheimers in late stage The disease is in its late stages. Symptoms of the disorder are severe in late stage. As a result, people are unable to respond to their environment, engage in a conversation, or control their movements. There may be still words or phrases spoken by them, but as their feelings become more painful, they may become unable to communicate.
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Theyre Falling More Often
Slips and falls can become a real problem for many types of elderly people but is an especially common risk for anyone with dementia.
During later stages of the disease, falling becomes an even more common problem. Your loved one may have trouble keeping their balance or walking on their own for very long at all.
If your loved one has been through an accident recently or if falling is becoming more and more common then it may be a sign that some professional care is needed for your loved one.
Why It Is Beneficial To Start A Memory Care Search Early
From finding and touring memory care residences to finalizing legal documents to managing the memory care move, it will take at least 2 months to sort out the logistics of moving your loved one into memory care. For most families, 3-4 months is more normal. Financial hurdles, like getting covered by Medicaid, obtaining VA pension benefits or finding other payment support will take even longer. Even with professional financial planning assistance, it can take 6 months to arrange payment.
It is highly advantageous to be prepared when the times comes for memory care rather than to be scrambling. The onset of the need for memory care is just as like to be sudden as it is to be gradual. Patient behavior can change dramatically accelerating the need for memory care. However, unexpected changes with primary caregivers is just as likely to initiative the need. Since many caregivers are spouses and elderly themselves and they often push themselves beyond their own limits, caregiver injuries are more common than thought.
Another benefit of starting early is that it can let your loved one actually have a say in the decision. Making the decision in later stages of the disease, when the largest stakeholder cant communicate well because of symptoms, will only exacerbate emotions including the guilty feelings that often come with this change.
The sooner the preparation begins, the more likely it is to be a positive transition.
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Choose The Right Assisted Living Facility
Whether your parent agrees to move into an assisted living facility or not, take the time to start looking around at different facilities in your general area. See what the facilities have to offer and how they can help your parent live a better life.
There are almost 30,000 assisted living communities in the U.S. right now. That can make it tough to find the best one for your parent.
You can do it by looking for a facility that has:
- Plenty of experience working with those with dementia
- A dedicated team of doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals
- A location thats easy for you and other family members to get to
- Lots of services designed to assist those living with dementia
- Affordable prices
Learn more about conducting a successful assisted living facility search before you begin looking for one.
When To Move From Assisted Living To A Nursing Home
Most people do not want to make a transition from assisted living to a nursing home. In some cases, it may be inevitable, but taking some proactive steps can give you a chance at making an informed decision.
Above all, do what you can to take control of your health to get better control over your choices.
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Making The Choice To Look For Assisted Living Dementia Care
If you recognize the above signs in your loved one it may just be time to make a change and look for assisted living dementia care. While it can be tough to make the call, its important to recognize that it may just be the best choice for both you and your loved one.
Ready to learn more about assisted living and memory care in Florida? Contact us today to learn more about what Seasons Memory Care can do for you.
Take Advantage Of Counseling Services & Transition Programs
This is a major physical transition, to be sure, but its also a major emotional transition for everyone involved.
Often, spouses and family members are the most dramatically affected as they watch their loved one settle seamlessly into place while the rest of the family is experiencing a sense of grief. If your parent opts to move into assisted living in the earlier stages of dementia, you may find support from a counselor valuable who can help you or your family process the complex array of emotions the transition elicits.
If youve been an integral part of your parents dementia care, we suggest reading,Adjusting to LifeAfter Being a Caregiver, which offers nourishing tips on how to handle your next steps.
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What Caregivers Need To Know
In a way, the study makes the argument for increasing public support for families that are caring for somebody at home. Theres not nearly enough resources out there, said Leah Eskenazi, MSW, the director of operations and planning for the Family Caregiver Alliance.
Families are turning to Eskenazis organization for help. She says of the thousands of families theyve helped, 70 percent are caring for someone with dementia.
What were seeing is that families are worried about doing the best job possible providing care. Having support for them in the community would make a world of difference, Eskenazi said.
For most people, it would help if they could just get somebody to come in and check on them or have a hotline to call about medications, she added.
It is notoriously difficult to assess pain and anxiety in someone with dementia, because they cant self-report as they are further along in the disease. You have to watch for them rubbing some area on their body, or tugging their clothes, or maybe they start crying, Eskenazi said.
The wonderful thing about being at home is that typically a family member will pick up on those clues, she said. That isnt always the case in a residential environment. In residential settings, there tends to be a usage of psychotropic medications to manage people with dementia.
Eskenazi says her organization also finds that half of family caregivers are now expected to carry out more complex care at home without a lot of training.
Understand And Accept Your Loved Ones Dementia Diagnosis
A dementia diagnosis is difficult on both the patient and their loved ones. For many, a diagnosis is the beginning of a long and uncertain journey. The road ahead could be difficult, but there are resources and education that can help, says Suzanne Havrilla, D.P.T., director of home support with Johns Hopkins Home Care Group.
Many families begin their path to acceptance by learning more from Alzheimer’s support organizations. These organizations often hold support groups for patients and families affected by dementia. They can also connect families to area practitioners and information. Its important to reassure families that patients can have a very good quality of life with this diagnosis, explains Havrilla. Once they are accepting of that, it may be easier for the caregivers.
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When Should A Person With Dementia Go To A Nursing Home
Even if, despite believing that keeping a loved one at home will provide them with a high quality of life, it is not the right time, you might also think about turning to a nursing home. Many nursing homes offer rehabilitation programs based on individualized needs, diets based on healthy living, 24-hour care and supervision, and social engagement programs.
Overworked Family Caregivers: Alternative Living Options For A Loved One
Many families with a loved one at home suffering from memory issues become overworked and exhausted in providing around-the-clock care to ensure all needs are met. Providing care to a spouse, parent, or grandparent with dementia behaviors in tight living spaces is often more than challenging.
In time, the caregiver will make the tough decision of considering other residential care options, ensuring that medical professionals in memory care units provide specialized care to their loved ones along with other patients.
Not all senior care retirement communities accept individuals who require around-the-clock dementia care.
Before selecting the optimal senior care community location, families must consider the extent of their loved ones memory loss, current medical care plan, and the need for help with activities of daily living.
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How To Tell If Someone With Signs Of Dementia Needs Assisted Living
In the popular understanding of dementia, people with dementia cant safely live alone. They dont recognize their loved ones and might barely even know themselves. This portrayal is a simplistic picture of a complex collection of diseases. Dementia is a slow and unpredictable illness. It doesnt always manifest as cognitive issues. For example, the key symptom of a dementia called primary progressive aphasia is a loss of the ability to speak, frontotemporal dementia might manifest as behavioral changes, and Alzheimers may progress slowly for many years.
Further complicating the picture is the reality that people with dementia may seem fine one moment and lost the next. Many people with dementia may not be diagnosed for yearsor even at all. Sometimes, family members confuse normal aging for dementia. And occasionally, loved ones think an elder with dementia is faking or exaggerating their symptoms.
So how can you tell when an elder with dementia needs assisted living? Theres no definitive test, but the following five signs suggest that a struggling senior needs additional help.