Signs that Alzheimer’s or Dementia Require a Different Type of Care

Alzheimer or dementia

While numerous seniors in the early stages of dementia can maintain independence or receive support, those with more pronounced cognitive decline might benefit from the expertise of trained professionals in memory care communities. Yet, dementia symptoms can fluctuate, making it challenging to discern when additional assistance is necessary. If your loved one is encountering confusion or disorientation that poses a risk to their physical well-being, or if there are notable changes in behavior, these signs suggest it may be the appropriate time to consider memory care or home care in Utah.

Good Shepherd Home Care & Hospice offers various patient services. Keep reading to learn about when it is time to help a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s with specialized care.

Determining the Right Time for a Care Facility

If you’ve observed shifts in your loved one’s behavior or have concerns about their safety living independently, exploring memory care in Utah becomes a consideration. Even if your elderly parent resists assistance, honor their autonomy where feasible. Arrange a meeting to explore options with your loved one and involve their doctor in the discussion. A doctor can employ various tools to assess signs of dementia, aiding your family in determining whether memory care is the most suitable solution.

The decision on when to transition to memory care varies among families. If consensus proves challenging among you and other family members, seeking guidance from a doctor might be a prudent step.

Challenges in Daily Activities

Individuals with dementia facing difficulties in performing activities of daily living (ADLs), like bathing, dressing, and using the restroom, may indicate a requirement for additional support throughout the day.

To assess a senior’s capabilities and safety, a physician might inquire about their ability to:

  • Remember to eat or drink
  • Dress appropriately for various weather conditions or occasions
  • Engage in regular and thorough bathing
  • Address concerns related to incontinence or maintaining personal hygiene after restroom visits

The doctor may recommend a mental status examination for further evaluation if any of these indicators are evident.

Addressing Safety Concerns

Highlighting safety concerns is a vital method to bring to the attention of family members’ behaviors that might warrant memory care. Pose these questions to relatives or caregivers:

  • Is your elderly family member leaving burners or appliances on after cooking?
  • Is proper home care being provided for a pet?
  • Have there been any instances of emergency room visits?
  • Does your aging parent have unexplained bruises or no recollection of how they got them?
  • Has wandering or getting lost exposed your loved one to perilous situations?
  • Do they require assistance in adhering to a regular medication schedule?

Determining the stage of dementia a person is in can help decide whether they should continue living alone. If they are prone to injuries, wandering outdoors, or engaging in activities that pose risks, they may be in the middle or late stages of dementia. Considering memory care for their safety may be a prudent choice if concerns about them living alone arise.

Moreover, it is essential to contemplate the legal implications of allowing a family member with dementia to reside independently. While it may not be unlawful to leave dementia patients alone, the severity of their symptoms plays a crucial role. According to the credible Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), many states have laws mandating doctors and lawyers to report the mistreatment of seniors, encompassing neglect of a senior’s needs, which qualifies as a form of elder abuse.

Discussing Memory Loss with Your Doctor

Initiate a conversation with your doctor promptly to undergo an examination and monitor the results. Initially, a senior may perform well on memory tests, exhibiting only minor impairment, such as forgetting challenging words or misplacing their glasses. However, it is advisable to raise these concerns early on. By addressing dementia in its early stages, you afford your elderly parent or relative the opportunity to engage in discussions about senior living.

Engaging in dialogue with a doctor during the early stages of dementia can also facilitate challenging conversations. Professionals are better equipped to broach topics like driving safety, necessary home modifications, or the potential transition to senior living.

Doctors Recommending Memory Care

When doctors contemplate recommending memory care during patient visits, they observe specific warning signs indicative of Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Observable characteristics such as frequent disorientation, agitation, or difficulty maintaining a conversation are notable concerns.

Following these observations, doctors may inquire about a senior’s daily activities or conduct a concise mental status examination.

Determining the Need for Dementia Care through a Cognitive Evaluation

Conducting a mental status exam can play a crucial role in assessing the necessity for dementia care. If the patient is communicative, this exam can establish a reliable baseline for tracking dementia symptoms and memory loss. The evaluation encompasses measuring concentration, short-term recall, and spatial awareness, evaluating the senior’s ability to:

  • Repeat words uttered by a doctor and recall them later in the appointment
  • Spell easy words backward
  • Perform basic additions and subtractions
  • Properly name objects
  • Comprehend visual and spatial cues, such as the location of objects in the room

Another commonly used test involves asking the individual to draw a clock and observing if they place numbers around the clock or in one corner.

Typically, aging adults visit their primary care doctor in Utah or geriatrician for these baseline tests. The doctor or geriatrician may refer the patient to a neurologist or another specialist for further analysis and a precise diagnosis.

These diagnostic tests aid the doctor and the patient’s family in understanding the extent of cognitive decline. The results become instrumental in determining the level of supervision and support the loved one requires. Depending on the circumstances, your family might be equipped to offer this support at home. Alternatively, it may be prudent to explore memory care as an option to ensure your relative’s safety, stimulation, and comfort.

Key Questions to Consider for Deciding on Memory Care Appropriateness

Behavioral shifts, safety apprehensions, and caregiver burnout are primary indicators suitable for considering a memory care facility, home hospice care in Utah, or some other specialized center. Reflect on these questions to evaluate your family’s circumstances.

Is Your Loved One Displaying Signs of Agitation or Aggression?

Seniors with dementia may encounter confusion, forgetfulness, disorientation, or challenges expressing themselves. These cognitive changes can cause a person with dementia to feel unsafe or frightened, leading to what caregivers might interpret as agitation, aggression, or even unintentional violence.

Individuals with dementia may engage in physical acts such as kicking, hitting, or biting caregivers when these situations cannot be prevented or de-escalated. In other instances, aggression may manifest verbally, including insults and unfounded accusations, presenting challenges for caregivers.

The risk of aggression is heightened when a senior with dementia is being cared for by an elderly spouse, and such behavior is often more prevalent later in the day and is often associated with sundown syndrome.

Is Your Elderly Relative Becoming Withdrawn or Anxious?

Individuals grappling with dementia may start to turn down social invitations and withdraw from social interactions. While decreased energy levels are a typical aspect of aging, avoiding once-enjoyed activities signals a cause for concern. Additionally, a once self-assured person might develop driving anxiety, choosing to remain at home and watch TV instead.

Does Your Loved One Engage in Wandering Behavior?

Wandering is a prevalent indicator that a memory care facility may be necessary. Seniors may experience confusion or disorientation, leading them to wander from home without awareness. This behavior can expose them to dangers, such as navigating busy roads or facing harsh weather conditions.

Implementing well-positioned locks and alarms at home may be essential to mitigate the risk of wandering. Memory care communities typically feature specialized layouts and secure outdoor spaces to facilitate safe wandering experiences.

Is Their Living Environment Secure?

Individuals aging in place with dementia may exhibit signs of hoarding household items or neglecting laundry and cleaning tasks. They might consume spoiled food or overlook cleaning up after pets. Safety concerns for Alzheimer’s patients at home may involve potential trip hazards, increased risk of falls, as well as issues related to kitchen appliances, firearms, or household chemicals. Providing dementia care at home often necessitates substantial safety adjustments and vigilant supervision.

Is Your Loved One Receiving Adequate Nutrition?

Seniors grappling with dementia may need tailored diet plans to address underlying health issues. Aging adults living independently might forget to eat or, conversely, overeat due to lapses in memory about recent meals, potentially resulting in notable fluctuations in weight.

Are Their Hygiene Requirements Met?

A senior who once prioritized personal grooming may overlook routine hygiene rituals, such as bathing or changing clothes. Additionally, they may need help with styling their hair or applying makeup and might hesitate to seek assistance. As dementia advances into the later stages, individuals may experience incontinence or neglect personal hygiene after using the bathroom.

Is Medication Management Addressed?

Overlooking or mismanaging prescription medications poses a risk of severe side effects. While reminders, alerts, and pill organizers may suffice for seniors in the early stages of dementia, individuals experiencing significant cognitive decline require more intensive intervention. Proper and adequate medication management is a critical aspect of memory care.

Are You Experiencing Resentment?

Burnout may be setting in if you find it challenging to identify positive aspects about your loved one. Extended periods spent together can sometimes cause caregivers to fixate on the negatives. It’s essential to create space, reflect on your relationship with your loved one, and allow yourself the opportunity to recharge.

Is Caregiving Impacting Your Well-Being?

The repercussions of caregiver burnout can be significant, affecting both your physical and emotional health. If you observe a decline in your mental or physical well-being, assessing the toll caregiving has taken on your life is crucial. Are you experiencing symptoms of anxiety or even depression? Is the physical strain of caring for a loved one causing discomfort? Remember that a decline in health can pose risks to you and your loved one.

Are You Safe?

Expressions of anger or aggression from someone with dementia can pose a risk of physical, sexual, or emotional harm to others. Accepting that a loved one may present a safety threat can be challenging. It’s essential to recognize that these behavioral changes are frequent, though their intensity can differ. Some individuals with dementia may not display violent behaviors at all.

Exploring Care Options

In general, if the safety of a senior with dementia is at risk and their needs are no longer adequately addressed, transitioning to a memory care home in Utah may be advisable. For example, if you find it challenging to meet their needs, and your physical and mental health as their caregiver begins to suffer, memory care becomes a potential solution. Memory care facilities incorporate safety measures and are typically staffed with caregivers with professional training in dementia care.

Once you’ve determined that your loved one requires additional care, consult their doctor about the next steps, especially following a dementia diagnosis. Seek guidance on recognizing signs that indicate it’s time for memory care. Memory care communities offer the opportunity for your loved one to age in a secure and stimulating environment where specialized caregivers can address both their medical and emotional needs.

Good Shepherd Home Care & Hospice can provide a customized plan if your family determines that in-home or memory care is the most suitable choice.

About Good Shepherd Home Care & Hospice

Good Shepherd Home Care & Hospice has been a steadfast choice for community care for over four decades. Our trained and compassionate staff is committed to providing personalized care solutions for each client and family within our programs. Our focus centers on the individual and their loved ones throughout the care journey.

We offer comprehensive support, addressing the physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, and social needs of clients and their families. Good Shepherd Home Care & Hospice can deliver care in various settings, including homes, assisted living centers, nursing facilities, or The Good Shepherd Hospice House.

As the community’s most seasoned and only non-profit hospice, Good Shepherd Home Care & Hospice is committed to providing compassionate end-of-life care for individuals and their families.

The hospice care team at Good Shepherd Home Care & Hospice comprises medical directors, registered nurses, certified home health aides, social workers, bereavement coordinators, hospice chaplains, therapists, registered dietitians, and volunteers.

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If you’re looking for a comprehensive approach to at-home hospice care that prioritizes the overall well-being of the individual rather than addressing isolated symptoms, trust Good Shepherd Home Care & Hospice. Contact us today to learn more about the caring and compassionate support we provide for your loved ones.