You were relieved when your aging parent moved to assisted living, but lately they’ve been struggling. And you’re beginning to wonder whether it could be related to Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia.
Thinking back on it, you may realize they were experiencing some memory problems or confusion even before they moved to assisted living. But now things are noticeably worse.
Maybe they’re constantly repeating themselves, forgetting what was said only minutes before. Or their behavior has changed. They don’t seem like themselves, perhaps becoming socially withdrawn or flying off the handle much more than usual. Or maybe they’re just not looking after themselves like they used to. They need help with basic activities like dressing and personal hygiene.
Consider other possible causes first
It’s tempting to assume that these changes are caused by dementia. But before reaching that conclusion, it’s important to consider other possible causes as well. Why? Well, some other causes may actually be treatable.
For instance, there might be any number of reasons your parent is confused lately. Yes, it could be dementia, but it also could be a urinary tract infection or an interaction between some of their medications or any number of other medical issues.
And if they do have one or more of these other problems and these problems are treated successfully, you may find that the confusion clears up.
That’s why your parent should get a proper medical assessment anytime their condition changes significantly. Even if they’ve already been diagnosed with dementia, other reversible problems may be making their issues worse and should receive attention.
What if their struggles are due to dementia?
Suppose that, after your parent gets a proper medical work up, it’s revealed that dementia is the main reason they’re struggling. If that’s the case, they may need more support than what’s available in assisted living.
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 problems:
- 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, good memory care programs will continue to give them a sense of purpose and belonging, of being valued and loved as a person.
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.