Avoid these 3 Memory Care Mistakes

Avoid these 3 Memory Care Mistakes

Avoid these 3 Memory Care Mistakes

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MemoryCare_AdobeStock_487366914Taking care of an older parent can be a stressful time for everyone involved—to say nothing of how difficult things become when escalating health needs enter the equation. Suppose your mother or father has begun to show signs of memory loss or has an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

In that case, they may quickly be unable to care for themselves or continue living alone. One of the most significant parts of ensuring they get the love and support they need involves understanding what memory care entails.

There are three common mistakes, which can be particularly harmful when it comes to memory care, that you’ll want to be aware of so that you can avoid them in any way that you can:

  • Not understanding what Memory Care means.
  • Unnecessary testing of memory status.
  • Waiting for a crisis to make a Memory Care placement.

1. You’re Approaching Things from the Wrong Angle.

One of the most common mistakes caregivers make is believing you can “fix” your parent or older loved one if you take the proper steps. If your idea of memory care is approaching the situation like a problem that needs to be fixed or a puzzle that needs to be solved, you’re likely doing more harm than good.

This memory care mistake is rooted in love with only the best intentions, but that doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. While it may help you deal with how scary and confusing your parent’s dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis is, it isn’t a helpful approach. It turns memory care into a zero-sum equation where you know what is right, and you must only explain to Mom or Dad why they are “wrong.”

This isn’t helpful and will, in fact, only serve to confuse and frustrate someone with Alzheimer’s.

Here are some suggestions for dealing with people who have dementia in a less stressful way.

It would be best to ensure your loved one has everything necessary to live as safely and comfortably as possible. There are some of the same feelings you would have if caring for a child, and the protective feelings you have are natural. It is helpful if you can manage your expectations about their loss of abilities.

The entire journey is working to find the line between what your loved one is still able to do safely and what has become unsafe. The fact that what is safe/unsafe is a moving target can make walking the fine line very challenging.

2. You’re “Testing” Your Loved One.

If you constantly find yourself quizzing mom or dad to try and help them remember things — certain events from your childhood or certain people who were prevalent in their life — you may only be doing more harm than good.

Don’t turn memory care into a test.

By continually asking if your parent or loved one remembers some person, place, or thing, you’re assuming that their memory works the same as it always has and that prompting will help them remember.

The hard reality of the situation is that if they don’t remember something, they don’t remember — period. No amount of prompting on your part will help. All you’re doing is creating a situation where the person does not remember the answer to your question and is incredibly frustrated by it.

Instead of posing a remembrance as a question, you could say, “We had so much fun on vacation when I was a kid,” and use similar, affirming positive language.

3. You’re Waiting Too Long to Make a Move.

It can be a mistake to delay a move into a Memory Care community. Families sometimes believe it will be easier if the person is less aware of the change. However, moving earlier can allow the person with dementia to make friends and adjust to a routine in their new environment a bit easier.
Memory care communities have engaging calendars with activities and therapies designed for people with dementia. Activities are planned to be purposeful and fun while easing the agitation and anxiety dementia brings.

The decision to begin the transition is a profoundly personal one, and many factors must be considered when determining the right timing and placement. Seeking help earlier will allow more time to make plans for the future and alleviate some uncertainty and stress when symptoms progress.

As dementia advances, being your parent’s full-time caregiver will change your relationship. Burnout can become a threat when you spend most of your time managing their care. Many caregivers end up neglecting their own health because the weight of caring for someone with dementia can be emotionally and physically exhausting. 

Moving your parent to memory care can help you restore your relationship so that you get to spend time doing the things you love to do together while someone else handles the professional care.

You may find that a memory care community can do more to provide consistent care than you can on your own.

Find the Support You Need

As you consider your choices, you may decide it’s time to find memory support services for your loved one.

Marjorie P. Lee offers memory care household options with specialized programs to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia stay engaged while having access to personalized therapies.

Our person-centered approach to care fosters meaningful connections. We prioritize understanding each resident’s likes and dislikes and spend time learning about their story. It creates a family-like atmosphere filled with comfort, enrichment, and joy.

Contact us at your convenience to learn more about how we help people living with dementia lead more engaged lives.

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Kristin Davenport

Kristin Davenport

Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public re... Read More >

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