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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

How to Know When It Is Time For Memory Care for Your Aging Parent

Dementia symptoms can vary day to day, which means it may not be easy to pinpoint when it is time for an aging parent to enter memory care. Did you know that worrying behavior, safety concerns, and caregiver burnout can be top signs that it is time for a memory care facility? Let us take a look at ten questions that can help you evaluate your family’s situation. 

The first set of questions relates to behavioral warning signs:

1. Is your aging parent withdrawn or nervous? Someone struggling with dementia may begin to decline social invitations, or may become too nervous to drive, go on walks alone, or even leave the house. 

2. Is your loved one agitated or aggressive? Some seniors with dementia may become confused and agitated, and that can lead to violence or aggression. They may kick, hit, or bite caregivers, or they may insult family members or friends, or accuse them of theft. 

3. Have friends or family members commented on the changes in behavior? It can be difficult to notice progressive changes, like steady weight loss, when you are a full time caregiver. This change could be more obvious to someone who only sees your parent a few times a year. 

The second set of questions relates to safety concerns:

4. Are hygiene needs being met? People with dementia may forget daily hygiene practices, like bathing or changing clothes. They may struggle to style their hair or apply makeup. 

5. Does your loved one wander? Seniors could become confused or disoriented and wander far from home without realizing where they are or how to get back. This can be dangerous, especially if your loved one wanders near busy roads or gets caught in severe weather. 

6. Are living conditions safe? People with dementia may begin to hoard household items, or neglect cleaning or laundry. They could eat spoiled food, forget to clean up after pets, or forget to turn off the stove. 

7. Are medications properly managed? Forgetting to take prescription medication, or taking too much of it, can lead to serious consequences. 

8. Is your parent getting proper nutrition? Many seniors aging in place may forget to eat, or they may overeat after forgetting that they have recently had a meal. Significant changes in weight are a warning sign that it may be time for memory care. 

The last set of questions address caregiver burnout: 

9. What are two things that are going okay, and one thing you wish were different? If your immediate answer is that nothing is going well, or you really have to think about it, it is time to seek help when caring for someone with dementia. Caregiver burnout can have serious consequences, physically and emotionally. It is common for dementia caregivers to feel frustrated and overwhelmed sometimes, but if left untreated, those feelings can lead to burnout and negative consequences for both the caregiver and his or her loved one. 

10. Are you and your family safe? Signs of dementia anger may lead to physical, sexual, or emotional aggression. It can be hard to accept that your loved one would threaten your safety, but severe behavioral changes are common. 

If the answers to these 10 questions lead you to believe that your aging parent may need additional care, a good place to start is with your parent’s doctor. Ask your parent’s doctor about next steps and a dementia diagnosis. Memory care communities can provide the support needed for your parent to age in a safe, stimulating environment where his or her medical and emotional needs are met. For legal assistance with related legal matters, such as long-term care planning as well as estate planning, our office is available to help. Please reach out to us today to schedule a meeting time.

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