My Parent with Dementia is Struggling in Assisted Living – Is Memory Care the Answer?

One of your parents has Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. They’re in assisted living at a retirement home, but you notice they’re starting to struggle. They’re having increasing trouble with basic daily tasks. Or they’re having difficulty communicating. Or their behavior has become unpredictable, maybe even volatile. Or they’ve taken to wandering off the property on their own and getting lost. 

You’re beginning to think they need more help. You’ve heard of memory care, but you’re not certain whether it will provide the support they need. Should you be considering a move?

Why your parent might be struggling

Assisted living works for a lot of people in the early stages of dementia when they’re still fairly independent and may only need help with a few daily activities and transportation. But as their dementia progresses, they may begin to experience one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Trouble finding words
  • Increased frustration
  • Uncharacteristic behaviors (possibly including emotional outbursts)
  • Increasing disorientation to time, place, and people
  • Difficulty with spatial perception (e.g. may start having trouble figuring out how to put on certain items of clothing)
  • Disrupted sleeping and eating patterns
  • Social withdrawal or depression
  • Exit-seeking behavior

How memory care can help

Good memory care communities have staff who are specially trained to support residents with these sorts of issues. Because people with dementia at this stage often have a hard time articulating their needs, it’s up to staff to figure out what’s at the root of their struggles. They do this by spending time getting to know each resident and observing them closely.  

This level of individualized attention – something that’s typically not available in assisted living – allows memory care staff to tailor their approach to your parent’s specific needs. They’ll focus on activities that your parent still enjoys and provide support so the experience is failure-free. If your parent becomes frustrated, staff will be able to calm and redirect them based on an understanding of their unique emotional triggers.

Even as your parent’s dementia progresses, a good memory care program will continue to give them a sense of purpose and belonging, of being valued and loved as a person.

Evaluating your memory care options

Of course, not all memory care is created equal. Good memory care programs should have satisfactory answers for each of the following questions: 

  • How can I be sure your staff have the training and experience needed to support someone with dementia like my parent?
  • My parent has trouble with [name the issue]. What would you do to support them?
  • What would you do to understand my parent’s life story? How might you use this information to develop an individualized program for them?
  • I’m a little concerned about my parent living alongside other people with dementia. How can you reassure me they’ll feel safe, welcome, and socially engaged?
  • What’s to prevent my parent from wandering off the property?

At Sinceri, we specialize in memory care. Download our free guide to memory care. Or contact us to better understand whether memory care is a good fit for your parent.

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