5 Signs it May be Time to Move a Loved One to a Memory Care Facility
A Heart-Wrenching Decision
Without a doubt, one of the most heart-wrenching decisions a person can ever be faced with is when to move their loved one to a memory care facility.
There are countless reasons why people put off making this decision, including emotional and financial barriers. However, experts, including those at the United States Department of Health and Human Services National Institute on Aging, and the Mayo Clinic, recommend that for the best results, families plan ahead and move the person during a period of relative stability whenever possible. With planning and foresight, there are ways to smooth the process and improve the outcome for all involved.
Unfortunately, often people avoid making this decision until far too late. The results can be challenging, or even catastrophic, for the person with dementia, and their entire family.
“But,” some wonder, “if my loved one is stable, why think about moving now? I want to spend every moment possible together in our home. Someday I may have to move her to a memory care facility near me, but we’re not ready yet.”
Truly, people rarely feel “ready” for a move to memory care. It can be really hard to know when the time is right, especially in the moment. People often look back in hindsight and realize that they should have made the move long before they did.
There are some situations that can be warning signs that a need for a move may be imminent. By knowing what to look for, and by planning ahead, one can set their loved one up for the best possible outcome in this difficult situation.
1. The Person is Wandering from the Home
One of the most dangerous and frightening situations for people with dementia can be wandering out of the home. When a confused or disoriented person leaves the house he or she can easily become lost or badly injured. Elders can quickly become dehydrated or succumb to the elements. They can fall or get hurt in many other ways.
Organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association offer suggestions for strategies and safety measures that can assist in decreasing the likelihood of wandering.
A majority of people with dementia will experience some wandering throughout the course of their disease. Wandering should be taken as a sign that it’s time to gather information, seek guidance and above all, make a plan.
Wandering may or may not mean that it’s time to move immediately, but it is vital to respond promptly, consult the experts and take the appropriate steps to avoid tragedy.
2. The Person is Unsafe in the Home
Safety can become compromised in the home of a person with dementia in many different ways. Forgetting to turn off the stove or water, making mistakes with medications, accessing handguns, stumbling, slipping or falling are just a few common examples.
People with dementia can forget how to use the phone during an emergency. They may fail to recognize an emergency or even the need for assistance. They are also at heightened risk for being exploited by scam artists.
From the beginning, it is imperative to ensure that measures are taken to create a dementia-safe home. A helpful resource can be found at the National Institute of Aging‘s website.
Bear in mind that these measures will need to be continuously reviewed and updated as the person’s needs change throughout the progression of the dementia. At a certain point, it will no longer be practical or possible to further alter the home environment. It will be necessary to move to a secure environment that has been set up to ensure the safety and success of the person with dementia.
3. The Person is Experiencing Distress
Dementia can be frightening and distressful for everyone involved. This is true for the person experiencing it directly, as well as their friends and family members. That said, there are some situations in which the distress to the person can be particularly intense and require additional intervention.
If someone is feeling intensely insecure or unsafe it is time for intervention and professional help.
Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there) can be a symptom of dementia. If they don’t upset the person with dementia it’s generally not considered to be a big problem. However, if they do cause fear or distress, they should be addressed.
The same holds true for delusional thinking (believing something false to be true). Delusions are different from confusion or forgetfulness in that they are strongly held beliefs in the face of contrary evidence. If they don’t cause distress to the person with dementia, it’s usually fine to let them be. If they are causing distress, professionals should be consulted.
It is vital to inform and involve the doctor when the person is experiencing distressing hallucinations or delusions. Unfortunately, many family practitioners and primary care providers don’t specialize in geriatrics or dementia. They often lack detailed understanding of the nuances of memory impairing illness.
Moreover, while medication can be helpful in some cases, in others it isn’t effective at all in treating the underlying cause of the distress. Taking medication that isn’t helpful is unnecessary and ineffective, and it frequently leads to debilitating side effects.
Often, a skilled dementia care professional can guide a family in ways to address underlying feelings of insecurity without drugs. This may mean adapting to the person’s changing needs with a change in the environment, daily routine, and/or the primary caregivers.
Consulting with skilled Alzheimer’s & dementia care placement services, such as the Certified Dementia Specialists at Complete Dementia Solutions in Houston, Texas, can help tremendously.
4. The Person’s Needs Exceed What the Caregiver can Provide
All dementia is progressive, which means that the person’s needs will continue to increase over time. At a certain point, it can be expected that the person’s needs will exceed what a single caregiver can provide.
This includes physical needs such as
- Assistance with going to the toilet
- Personal hygiene and incontinence care
- Physical assistance to bathe, dress and even eat
- Assistance with mobility
- Walking and other exercise
- Assistance to move out of a chair or bed
The needs may be for cognitive stimulation to relieve boredom and to slow the decline of their current mental abilities.
Needs can include social interaction or emotional reassurance for anxiety. When these needs are unmet, frequently it manifests as mental, emotional or behavioral symptoms.
In some cases it may be possible to hire help to come into the home. In others cases in-home care is not well received by the person. Sooner or later it usually becomes impossible for families to afford the amount of in-home care required to meet all of the person’s physical, emotional and behavioral needs.
In any case, if a person’s needs are unmet, they will not function at their highest level. They may exhibit more behavioral expressions of discontent, such as irritability or anger. They may have physical decline or medical complications. Frequent urinary infections, weight loss, failure to thrive, and inadequate control over chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension can worsen their health, their dementia symptoms, and their daily functioning.
5. The Caregiving Family Member is Experiencing Burnout
Whether or not professional caregivers are hired to help out in the home, the caregiving family member grows increasingly susceptible to compassion fatigue, or burnout, as the disease wears on.
Caregiver burnout is a serious problem with serious consequences. AARP‘s website offers an overview of some of staggering and sobering statistics regarding the overwhelming physical and mental health detriments associated with this condition.
Signs of burnout such as anger, anxiety, denial, depression, exhaustion, frustration, inability to concentrate, increase in health problems, changes in sleep patterns and withdrawing from friends and activities should not be overlooked or trivialized.
There are many cases of family members, especially spouses, ending up in the hospital unable to continue caring for their loved one with dementia. The result is a situation that is stressful and traumatic for everyone involved.
A Move to the Right Place at the Right Time Will Improve Outcomes for All
Many families resist making a move to a memory care facility at all costs. They regard it as something to be avoided until the very last possible moment. However, the truth is that a move to memory care can be a positive step for the person with dementia and their family.
When they receive the proper help and support to adequately meet their needs, the entire family is finally able to heal, grow and function at their best. They can start to return towards a healthier relationship dynamic.
Of course, the ultimate wish is to go back to the way things were before the dementia struck. Once families are able to accept that going back is not an option, but going forward is, healing and progress can truly begin.
So, how does one go about finding the right facility? Could it really be as simple as typing “Alzheimer’s care facilities near me” into the search bar online?
Unfortunately, no. The world of memory care is complex, and there are many different factors that play into finding the right facility for each individual. Pricing, medical conditions, behavioral support needs, and the likelihood of having to move again as a person’s condition changes, are just a few of the important considerations.
The good news is that help is available for Houstonians. Complete Dementia Solutions knows all of the Alzheimer facilities in Houston Texas. They know the resources available and how to assist families to find the services they can afford. They know memory care and they take the time to get to know the individuals they are serving, their families and their unique needs and preferences. This width and depth of knowledge, along with their personal passion and compassion, ensures that they will find the right facility for each individual the first time.
Finding the Right Facility can be a Challenge
The process of finding a facility in the right price range, with the right selection of services, in the right location can be incredibly difficult and overwhelming on the best of days. Under the kind of stressful conditions that typically lead up to the need for placement, the process can be downright impossible to undertake on one’s own.
Unfortunately, this often leads to poor placements. Whether due to poor planning, inadequate knowledge or information, or as a result of a crisis situation in which families have no choice but to take the first or only option available, poor placement leads to poor outcomes.
Poor outcomes may mean more difficulty acclimating. It could mean significant distress or a noted decline in function or health. It may mean having to make a move again, to another facility. It will certainly mean more stress and more problems as compared to finding the right placement the first time.
Ending up in the Wrong Facility can be a Nightmare
When a facility is a poor fit the results can range from unfortunate to disastrous. It could mean that the person is uncomfortable or unhappy in their new environment.
It should be expected that any move to a memory care facility, right or wrong, will be stressful. Further, a change in health or behavior upon moving does not necessarily indicate a poor placement. It will be important to have professional guidance from people specialized in dementia, such as the Certified Dementia Practitioners at Complete Dementia Solutions, to determine whether any such changes are likely to be the result of a poor placement, or other factors.
The key difference is that the right fit will minimize stress and complications acclimating to the move, as opposed to a poor fit, which will worsen them.
Nobody Wants to Move
It should be expected that most people with dementia will NOT want to move into any facility. Even if they do acknowledge their needs and agree that they will move “when it’s time”, the truth is that rarely does the person recognize that the time is now. If they do, it is a true blessing. Generally speaking, waiting for the person with dementia to agree to move is a frequent mistake.
All Moves are Stressful
It can also be expected that all moves will be stressful to some extent. Almost everyone will experience some level of discomfort, grief or unhappiness for the initial period upon moving. The goal should be to minimize this to the extent possible.
The Right Facility will Minimize Stress with Acclimation
If the facility is the right fit the acclimation period usually won’t last too long. Depending on the individual and many variable factors, this could mean anywhere from the first couple of days to several weeks, or possibly more.
The Wrong Facility may Increase Stress and Other Problems
If the facility is a poor fit, the person is more likely to experience greater distress upon moving. Additionally, they are likely to experience a higher number of adverse incidents. This could include falls, extreme weight loss, changes in health or behavior, or behavioral altercations with staff or other residents.
If the facility is not a good fit for the individual, the family must then make the difficult decision to move the person again. This means the person will again be put through another stressful acclimation period. If there have been falls, injuries, weight loss or health concerns, the situation becomes that much more challenging, distressing and complicated for all involved.
How to Tell the Right Facility from the Wrong Facility?
It can be truly confusing and difficult to tell if these types of adverse incidents result from a poor facility fit or other factors. They may be coincidental, or due to the progression of the dementia, or they may be due to other medical issues that the person may be experiencing.
It is important to note that the right facility fit for one person may well be the wrong fit for another.
Ask an Expert!
It is imperative to have a trusted third party to help guide the person and family through this process. Ideally this will be someone who
- knows what to expect when it comes to memory care
- knows about local services, health providers and resources available for people with dementia
- knows about the needs and preferences of the individual person with dementia and their family
- cares about finding the right fit the first time
Complete Dementia Solutions Knows Memory Care Facilities in Houston Texas
In many areas of the country it can be very difficult or financially unreasonable to find Alzheimer’s & dementia care placement services. Often, the generalized senior placement services don’t posses the depth of knowledge and specialization required to ensure the right fit for an individual with dementia’s unique needs.
When looking for memory care facilities in Houston Texas, Complete Dementia Solutions can offer an expert eye and a helpful hand. Their passion is to find the right fit the first time. They are familiar with all of the Alzheimer facilities in Houston Texas, and there is no cost for their services to the individual or their family.
Plan Ahead for the Best Outcome
Unfortunately, people often wait until a crisis hits before making a move. While it is completely understandable, the fact remains that doing so typically results in poorer outcomes and a more distressful experience for the person with dementia.
On the other hand, planning ahead can significantly reduce stress and improve outcomes.
Call Complete Dementia Solutions for More Information Before a Crisis Hits
An online search for “Alzheimer’s care facilities near me” or “memory care facility near me” will produce the names of a selection of facilities, but will offer very little meaningful information about how they compare to one another, and no way to tell which will be the right fit for a specific individual.
Give Brenden and the team a call at Complete Dementia Solutions to find out how they can help navigate this confusing and overwhelming territory with confidence, competence and compassion, at no cost to the family.
Complete Dementia Solutions, LLC
1962 Northpark Dr. Ste. C-1
Kingwood, Texas 77339