Caregivers, care recipients, and persons with an interest in aging attended the Amazing Aging Expo in Denver, Colorado today. Anthem Memory Care, was a specialty sponsor of the expo. Shannon Stewart Ingram, VP Sales and Marketing, organized and led a group of industry experts for a presentation and panel discussion titled, “Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiving: Myths & Realities” by Pamela D. Wilson, Karen Twichell, and David A. Hoppe.
Anthem Memory Care (not to be confused with Anthem insurance) is a leader in the senior care industry with several communities in the Denver metro area specializing in memory care. The presentation and panel discussion focused on the challenges experienced by caregivers and common myths about memory loss. I was honored to be included in the special group of presenters and to have the opportunity to meet many committed caregivers seeking education at the Amazing Aging Expo.
One question posed to the panel was the “right time” to move a loved one to a senior care community. While there is no single right answer, the right time depends on aspects that include:
- Care needs – Senior care communities offer support with daily activities that include bathing, dressing, medication reminding, light housekeeping, and meals.
- Isolation – If a loved one has stopped driving and becomes isolated at home the social aspects of a senior care community are extremely beneficial to warding off depression that is a common side-effect of being isolated and living alone.
- Personal preference – Many times after a spouse passes away the caregiver spouse no longer wishes to remain in the marital home. A move to a retirement community offers a new start, the ability to meet and make new friends, and to socialize.
- Memory loss – Individuals with memory loss who might have remained independent at home with the support of in home caregivers may reach a situation where it is not safe to remain at home without 24/7 care. At this point, after reviewing available finances, many families choose to move a loved one to a memory care community where support and socialization is available 24/7 at a more affordable rate.
- Benefit of a daily routine – After retirement, the regular routine of work disappears. Many individuals, especially those experiencing memory loss, benefit from daily routines that are offered by many senior care and memory care communities.
- Home maintenance – Daily life without the responsibilities and expense of maintaining a home is greatly simplified by a move to a senior care community. Few older adults tell me that they miss activities such as yard work, shoveling snow, housekeeping, or preparing meals. Senior care communities offer freedom from many daily activities that become tedious or time consuming.
- Caregiver exhaustion – The daily life of a caregiver caring full-time for a spouse or loved one can be exhausting. The health of the caregiver often suffers. Many times investigating a care community is a prudent step not only to protect the health and well-being of the care recipient but also the health and well-being of the caregiver.
While there is no right time to move a loved one to a senior care or memory care community, there are risks in waiting too long to consider a move. The support provided in a senior care community may be considered preventative in nature. It is true that many older adults forget to take medications as prescribed. Many have lost the desire to prepare meals and begin losing weight. Others who are isolated become depressed or anxious. Personal hygiene and housekeeping become challenging.
Rather than watch a loved one struggle to maintain in a private home or apartment, consider investigating a senior care community that offers many benefits and that may prevent the requirement for a higher level of care provided only by nursing or rehabilitation communities. At the point a serious fall or health issue occurs, a senior care community may no longer be an option. Many older adults tell me that they do not want to live in a nursing home.
Investigating care communities before a need occurs is wise; the risks are low. Tour during a meal period so that you are able to see the age and activity level of other residents in the community. If you are fearful about being continually contacted by care community staff be clear to state that you are “looking” and do not have a specific time frame in mind. Let staff know the frequency at which they are welcome to contact you.
The decision to move a loved one to a senior care community will have a better outcome if not rushed or made as the response to a health or medical crises. Investigate and tour communities early before the need, involve your loved one in the process if possible, and plan the move at the time appropriate based on the need of your loved one.
Memory Loss and the Benefits of Care Communities was last modified: August 29th, 2015 by
Pamela D. Wilson is widely respected as a leading expert in the caregiving industry. Since 2000, she has helped thousands of family members and professional caregivers traverse countless challenges common to healthcare and aging. In addition to authoring, The Caregiving Trap, Pamela was producer and host of the radio show, The Caring Generation. Pamela may be reached at 303-205-7877 and through her company website, The Care Navigator.