Choosing the right time to move is never easy. But what’s more difficult, and potentially dangerous, is waiting too long! The timing between someone receiving a memory loss diagnosis and the point they require 24-hour support varies greatly. While there’s no textbook answer on when to make the move, safety must be considered sooner rather than later.
Here’s what to look for when considering memory care:
Signs of Increased Memory Loss and Confusion
Is your friend or loved one saying the same things repeatedly or asking the same questions? Have they called you multiple times with the same question, or have they suddenly stopped calling because they’re forgetting to charge their phone?
Have they set out on a walk or drive and become lost? Have they stopped driving or taking walks because they became confused and scared during a recent trip?
Falling for scams
Is your loved one trusting strangers, or being scammed out of money by phone, door-to-door, or email scams, or are they a victim of elder abuse?
Have they accused someone of stealing when they’ve misplaced something?
Are they still getting medication refills, and are they taking their meds? Have there been errors like taking too much medication or missing doses? Are you seeing pills on the floor or around the house?
Is your friend or loved one still social? Have friends stopped visiting or have they stopped making calls? Do they still attend church and other functions that they used to enjoy? If they have stopped, is it due to losing transportation or the ability to drive?
If you’re seeing depressive symptoms like crying a lot and isolation following the loss of a loved one, pet, or long-time friend, it might be a good idea to refer them to their medical provider for an evaluation to rule out depression. Changes and loss can impact people differently as they age.
Is your loved one becoming increasingly paranoid or fearful of others or their surroundings? Have they accused others of stealing?
Are you noticing that they’re sleeping too much or not enough? Lack of sleep can cause major confusion, which can also cause forgetfulness and other symptoms.
Activities of Daily Living
In healthcare, we often refer to activities of daily living as “ADLs.” In short, these are all the things we need to do each day to live. When we can no longer independently bathe, dress, eat, move around, or get in and out of chairs and our bed, it’s time for help. Trying to do these things and failing to do them can have very negative impacts like skin breakdown, weight loss, and injuries from falls. Sometimes people stop doing these things or cut back, and it becomes noticeable.
Have you noticed that they’ve stopped bathing, brushing their teeth, or combing their hair? If they haven’t fully stopped these activities, have they reduced them or expressed fear of using their bathroom or tub/shower?
If your friend or loved one has incontinence, are they able to both independently and safely manage that? Failing to properly clean up or handle incontinence can lead to urinary tract infections that could cause falls or extreme confusion.
Are they wearing the same clothes over and over again, or have they stopped wearing certain items like shoes or bras? This could be an indication of forgetfulness, pain, or limited mobility. If forgetfulness is not the culprit, perhaps physical and occupational therapies at home are a way to help your loved one regain strength and reduce pain.
Weight loss or gain
Are they overeating or skipping meals? Check the fridge and cupboards to see the quantity and quality of what’s inside. An excess of expired foods lying around can indicate that they’re buying the same foods they always have, but they’re not remembering to eat them.
Check the stove and oven in the kitchen for signs of use.
Sometimes with memory loss, people forget they ate and eat again, or forget to have a meal at all. If they can no longer safely cook or prepare healthy foods, you may notice weight gain too, if they’re primarily eating take-out or reheating salty ready-made meals.
Is your loved one or friend drinking enough water? Do they supplement with lots of coffee or sugary beverages? Dehydration can cause extreme confusion.
Mobility and transferring
Is getting out of their chair or bed independently becoming a struggle? Without asking this, you may notice if someone is bracing themselves on walls or furniture to get up or move around. If they grimace but don’t report pain, that’s important to note as well.
If their home has stairs, are they safely using them, or have they stopped using the areas of their home that require climbing stairs?
Are they having falls due to balance or strength loss?
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living
We call these “IADLs.” These are the activities we must do to get by, like driving, shopping for groceries, paying bills, and cleaning the house.
Have they stopped driving or become unsafe when driving? Has there been any issue of getting lost, forgetting to use the brakes, or mixing up the pedals? Have they taken a drive and run out of gas?
Home cleaning and laundry
Are they continuing to wash dishes, vacuum, and do laundry? We all have our style of keeping house, but if you notice that someone who was once meticulous about a clean home suddenly becoming untidy, it’s best to take time to make observations. Is laundry piled up? Do they have cleaning supplies available, and are they being used?
Check to see if they’re opening their mail or if it’s piling up. Are any utilities being turned off due to missed payments, like cell phone, water, heat, or cable?
Is your loved one still able to go shopping, or has their spending increased to indicate possible issues with fraud or forgetfulness?
What do all these signs mean?
These could all be indicators that it’s time for memory care or assisted living, but the best first step is to contact your loved one’s general medical provider. From there, tests can be done to help you all decide what the best support will be. Sometimes making the move is the answer, but help at home might be the answer too.
Please reach out to us at email@example.com to find out how we can help!