Updated Oct. 23, 2018: This article has been updated in the wake of Retired Supereme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement today that she has "beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease." She is the latest of about 5.7 million Americans who suffer from Alzheimer's daily. Buckner Retirement Services offers memory care in all of its senior living communities throughout Texas.
Dealing with a dementia diagnosis of any kind can be scary for family members, and understandably so. Deciding a memory support community is the best care plan for your loved one, however, is even harder.
As the child and primary decision maker, here’s what you need to know about memory care for your parent.
1. You have choices.
Unlike communities in the past, memory support communities today offer a wide variety of living options with various degrees of hands-on care to best suit your loved one’s needs.
From family-style homes with a small staff to resident ratio, to assisted living communities specializing in high-functioning memory care, senior living communities today can cater their offerings directly to your loved one’s needs.
2. You don’t have to visit every day.
Many children hold the burden of caring for their loved one for months or even years, and feel guilty when transferring that care to a community setting. However, there is no reason to feel guilty for seeking the best care plan for your loved one.
Trust the care team, and let the community do its job. Staff are trained to make your loved one feel at home whether you visit every day or not. Visiting only when you are rested and ready to connect makes the time you do spend with your loved one quality.
3. There are different types of dementia, and they may progress in different ways.
Not every resident you see at a memory care community will have the same level of engagement. Don’t be alarmed when you see a resident functioning at a different level than your loved one. Symptoms of dementia you observe in another resident may not ever be experienced by your family member.
4. Expect to see a difference.
Your loved one may appear to get better living in a community setting. While nothing can stop the progression of a dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis, things like routine and regular social interaction can slow the process dramatically. A memory care community provides that routine and makes sure your parent is taking medications at exactly the right times, eating three meals every day and experiencing meaningful engagement with the staff and residents around them.
Ultimately, the goal of a memory care community is the same as an independent living community: provide senior adults with meaningful engagements to enrich their everyday life experience. Know that you’re doing the right thing in seeking these opportunities for your parent and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Written by Crystal Muiz, administrator of Sagecrest Alzheimer’s Center at Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo. She has more than 16 years of experience in memory care, and today she’s sharing the top things you need to know after you decide your loved one needs memory care.