8 Signs That Your Elderly Loved One Needs Memory Care

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8 Signs That Your Elderly Loved One Needs Memory Care

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How do you know when the time has come to move your older loved one into residential memory care? For many Kentucky families, this question can lead to a lot of anxiety and hand-wringing, especially when the elderly relative is resistant to moving out of his or her home.

If the time has come for your older loved one to benefit from assisted living or residential memory care, we’re here for you.

The symptoms of dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other age-associated cognitive disorders may come on slow and quickly accelerate, or may rapidly progress from the get-go. Before a family has a chance to form a care plan, the symptoms of dementia may make it unsafe for an elder to continue living independently.

Today, let’s look at 8 warning signs that would indicate your older parent or grandparent needs residential memory care placement.


1. Difficulty managing medications


Many older Americans take several daily medications to treat chronic and age-related conditions like high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (“a-fib”), diabetes, arthritic pain and more. For some, missed doses or accidental overdoses lead to decompensation, emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

If your elderly loved one is missing doses, consistently fails to refill prescriptions on time (either due to forgetfulness or the expense), has difficulty reading prescription labels or following medication instructions, he or she may be at risk of life-threatening medication mishaps.

2. Missed medical appointments

Likewise, if your parent or grandparent is missing regular medical appointments, or is unable to keep multiple specialist appointment times straight, he or she might no longer be able to safely self-manage. It may be time to arrange for additional in-home nursing services, an in-home case manager, or residential memory care.

3. Decline in personal and/or household cleanliness

If your loved one is developing a generally unkempt appearance, often has body odor, isn’t performing normal household chores like taking out the garbage, doing the laundry, cleaning the dishes, etc., or is observed wearing the same clothes for days at a time, there is significant cause for concern.

It’s possible that your older loved one is clinically depressed. If that’s the case, he or she might be able to regain the ability to self-manage with proper counseling and/or psychiatric treatment.

But it’s also possible that he or she is exhibiting signs of worsening dementia and is no longer able to take care of him or herself. Your relative’s primary care doctor or geriatrician should be consulted to help your family understand what is happening, and to figure out if your loved one needs assisted living or memory care placement.

4. Often becomes agitated or exhibits personality changes, especially later in the day

Severe bursts of agitation, especially those that occur more frequently toward the end of the day, may be indications that your loved one is exhibiting “sundowner syndrome” — a characteristic symptom of mid- to late-stage dementia.

It’s thought that sundowner syndrome may be triggered by normal end-of-day fatigue. Like most people, someone living with dementia will naturally become crankier and be less in control when he or she is tired. But the abrupt, sometimes violent shifts in mood and increased disorientation can be disturbing to witness and exceedingly difficult for family caregivers to manage.

5. Shakiness or unsteadiness 

Advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s can cause your relative to walk with an unsteady or shuffling gait. He or she may experience multiple falls (which can out him or her at severe risk of major injury or death). You might notice your loved one exhibiting uncontrollable jerking movements (especially in Parkinson’s disease), shaking hands, or inability to grasp objects.

If your older parent or grandparent is showing signs of motor impairment, he or she should be immediately seen by a doctor. If dementia is determined to be the cause, it’s time for memory care placement.

6. Severe memory loss

Older people will forget things from time to time. That’s normal. But advanced dementia can result in a senior forgetting things like a grandchild’s name, the spelling of simple words, his or her own birthday or address or other information that should be easily recalled. Severe memory loss should be evaluated immediately by a doctor.

7. Changes in speech pattern, communicativeness, or apparent comprehension

An older person with dementia may revert to child-like or infantile speech patterns. He or she may become generally less communicative or seem perpetually bewildered. Simple questions or instructions might be met with inappropriate or nervous laughter, or with frustration and agitation.

8. Wandering

Wandering is a common behavior in seniors with late-stage dementia or Alzheimer’s. And it can be very dangerous if your parent or grandparent is still living at home.

Seniors who wander need to be carefully monitored. If you observe wandering behaviors in your older parent or grandparent, it’s probably time to opt for placement.

These are just some of the potential warning signs that your loved one needs memory care.

Click here to download our free guidebook about dementia warning signs. It will help you to understand what to look for and what to be mindful of as your family considers memory care placement for your elder.

If the time has come for your older loved one to benefit from assisted living or residential memory care, we’re here for you.

Come visit us at Episcopal Church Home. We’d be happy to take you on a tour and show you how we’re providing premier memory care for Louisville and Kentuckiana seniors and peace of mind for loving families like yours.

episcopal church home dementia guide


Bryan Reynolds
April 19, 2017
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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