Deciding when to move a loved one from home-based care to a memory care center is a difficult topic. In most cases, spouses and families opt to wait until their loved one is in the middle- to later-stages of memory care in order to keep them at home – in a familiar space – as long as possible.
While these intentions are sound, the reality is that those with dementia and Alzheimer’s seem to experience longer, higher-quality lives when they are moved to a memory care center sooner rather than later.
Moving Into Memory Care Sooner Offers Higher Quality of Living
Here are some of the reasons quality of life is improved when spouses, parents, or loved ones move into a memory care center rather than remaining at home.
Keep ahead of the memory decline curve
A succinct post on alzheimers.net describes how Alzheimer’s evolves from preclinical Alzheimer’s (the first symptoms) to the late stages of severe cognitive decline.
By moving a loved one into memory care center ahead of the “moderate decline” point on the curve, you improve the quality of your loved one’s life because:
- Residents have the ability to settle in, learn their way around and become familiar with the staff, their neighbors and medical professionals while they still have cognitive function.
- 100% of their daily life is geared toward memory care specific-diets, activities, routines, outings, etc., which keeps them active and engaged.
- They are closely monitored by experienced clinical and medical staff who can notice and address any shifts, declines, or behaviors that are immediately improved via changes in medication, treatments, or therapies.
Research continues to show that while dementia isn’t reversible in most cases, dementia-specific care and attention notably slows its progression. And, the health professionals working at memory care centers are always at the forefront of the latest memory care research and treatment options.
Continuous social engagement
In most cases, pre-dementia life involves far more personal and social engagement, along with mental stimulation, than the post-dementia diagnosis lifestyle.
This is especially true if the person is taken care of at home. The comfort of home and increasing care from immediate family members and caregivers is valuable, but it almost inevitably leads to an individual who spends most of his/her time sitting or lying down, not very engaged with those around them, rapidly turning inward on themselves.
While the initial transition may be emotionally difficult, it’s amazing to see how those with earlier stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s blossom when they move into their new memory care environment.
For one thing, there is no reason to maintain a pretense of “normalcy” – which is incredibly taxing for those who remain among their cognitively healthy family and friends. That “acting to keep it together” becomes a great strain.
Instead, the barriers can go down, the unknown can be explored and embraced with others in the same situation, and there is a whole new world of activities that are all geared for their wellbeing.
Also, due to innovations such as Town Center concepts and village-like designs, memory care residents’ world becomes more vibrant (and manageable) as a result of their new environment.
Extended life expectancy and quality of life
Those who work in the very special realm of memory care know that residents who move here earlier get more comfortable and assimilate more quickly into their new life. They are more social and active, participate more willingly in the spectrum of amenities and activities offered at The Memory Center.
As a result, those who move here during the earlier- to early-mid stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia live an average of two years longer than their counterparts.
On the other hand, individuals who move here during the later stages of the disease have the same life expectancy of those who move into more traditional nursing homes – somewhere around six months on average – because they simply don’t have the ability to enjoy all of the resources a memory care center offers them.
Ask yourself who you are protecting or taking care of
In the deep and heartfelt conversations, we have the honor and privilege to facilitate with our residents’ families, we often witness a spouse or child caregiver come to a painful awareness.
This wrenching revelation is that they waited so long to transition their beloved mate or family member into memory care because they, themselves, were having a difficult time accepting the new reality.
In many cases, the individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s asked to move or encouraged their caregivers to let them move somewhere else, but guilt or a feeling of resistance held their caregiver back. You may feel like moving them somewhere is a surrender of your obligation when, in fact, it allows you to reclaim a more loving, connected relationship.
Is there any chance your resistance has more to do with a personal desire to “keep things as they are?”. Is your fear that memory care isn’t affordable a means of shielding yourself from the reality of the situation and what’s best for the one you love and hate to see go?
If so, we recommend taking advantage of one or more of the amazing outlets for Alzheimer’s support here in our area to help you work through your feelings.
If finances are a concern, read, How to Find Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living, to see if there are any avenues or resources you’ve yet to tap.
Ensuring A Smooth Transition Into Memory Care
We assure you that transitioning a loved one into the right memory care facility will enhance everyone’s life – freeing up time and space to explore the new relationship that must be forged with a dementia diagnosis, as well as your new paths forward.
There is always time required to form a new plan after receiving dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis. However, research shows that the sooner memory care and treatment are available, the better it is for most individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Learn more from these helpful resources: