Living with Dementia in Senior Housing; Signs It May Be Time for Memory Care
Margaret was diagnosed with dementia. While she could make decisions, she moved to an assisted living facility. Now, there are subtle signs that she may need to move into a memory care facility. It is difficult to know when it is right. Occasionally, facility staff see the changes happening. It may be time to move when the following factors are noticeable:
Increase in Confusion
When dementia progresses people may experience more confusion. The routines that they once followed become more difficult to carry out. For example, people may:
- Forget to take medication.
- Lose their way within the community; unable to find the dining room, activities, apartments.
- Wear the same clothing for days or even weeks at a time.
- Asking staff or other residents repetitive questions.
Alone, these changes may not raise red flags. Regardless, it can be an indication that the person needs more support.
Start to Isolate
Senior living is designed to promote socialization. Structure and routine are important for a person with memory loss. With increased confusion comes the inability to structure one’s own day. This can lead to isolation. The isolation can be due to confusion of time. It can also happen because the person is fearful of becoming lost.
When determining if a person with dementia needs to move into a secure memory care facility, safety is usually one of the biggest factors. For example, the individual goes for a walk and cannot find their way home. This can be dangerous when the weather is too hot or too cold. Getting lost is not the only safety factor. Missing meals. Not drinking enough liquid. Forgetting to turn off the stove or oven. Putting things in the microwave that can catch on fire. Leaving water running. Flushing non-flushable objects. These all pose a safety hazard to the person or potentially other people.
As mentioned above, facility staff may notice changes to a person living in assisted living. Nursing staff can perform assessments to help determine the level of memory loss. They may recommend a move to secure memory care. There are advantages to making this move. If changes in cognitive ability are sudden, talk to your physician. There are times when confusion is reversable due to medications, dehydration, urinary tract infections or other treatable conditions. In next month’s newsletter, you can read about the advantages of memory care vs. assisted living.