Is it time for memory care?

If you care for a loved one with moderate to advanced dementia, it’s likely the idea of placement in memory care has come up. Maybe a friend has nudged you. Or it’s been suggested by your relative’s doctor or care manager. Perhaps you know you are exhausted. Most families eventually investigate this option because it’s staffed 24/7 by people trained in dementia strategies.

The most common reasons families make the shift

  • The person is in danger of harming themselves or others (for instance, wandering, or aggressive outbursts).
  • The family caregiver’s mental or physical health is going downhill.
  • The person is incontinent.

Your feelings may cloud wise judgment. People with dementia don’t recognize their need for help. It is up to you to make a wise decision for them. But strong feelings may hold you back:

  • Guilt or betrayal. You promised you’d never send them to a nursing home. Sometimes we can’t keep every promise. Who knew dementia care could be so hard? Visit a few memory care communities. Given their focus on keeping residents happily engaged in activities, they are generally much sunnier than a nursing home.
  • Shame or embarrassment. Others may judge you. None of them have walked in your shoes. Go to a support group of family caregivers and hear their feedback. Your decision addresses the need for safety and good health for everyone involved.
  • Worry your relative will get worse. No one can care for them as attentively as you can. That’s true. And an uptick in confusion and disorientation is common at first. About six weeks in, however, you’ll likely see them more engaged as they join others in activities.

If you are struggling with this decision, consult with a care manager or social worker. They can even facilitate a family meeting to get everyone on the same page.