If you’re caring for a parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, then you’re not alone. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you’re one of more than 16 million friends and family members who help 80% of people with dementia-related conditions to receive care in their homes.
Caring for your loved ones while they’re in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia may strengthen your relationship with them. It can remind you not to take your time together for granted. However, as the disease progresses, it may start to take a toll. The CDC notes, “The demands of caregiving can limit a caregiver’s ability to take care of themselves. Family caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and poorer quality of life than caregivers of people with other conditions.”
Specialized memory support can help families shift from quantity time to quality time and, in the process, from being overwhelmed with worries to treasuring the moments you share.
Finding Balance with a Memory Care Community
How do you know when your loved one with Alzheimer’s needs more support than you can provide — in their own home or yours? Let’s take a look.
In addition to memory-related considerations, like forgetting a pan on the stove, caregivers need to consider age-related safety issues. One of the most common hazards is a slip and fall. CDC data from 2018 shows that of 52 million older adults, 36 million experienced a fall, with 8 million resulting in injuries.
Considering your parent or loved one’s changing healthcare needs is a given, but you also need to consider your health. Are you postponing self-care because you’re juggling work, family, and mom or dad’s care needs? Is your loved one’s disease progression pushing you beyond your physical abilities?
Caregiving is not for the faint of heart. If the stress affects your mental health, the depression and anxiety you feel can manifest as irritability or impatience with your loved one. This is also known as compassion fatigue.
It’s not just the primary caregiver that feels the impact of caring for a parent with dementia. The CDC reports that an estimated 25% of people caring for a loved one with dementia are also caring for children under 18. Members of this “sandwich generation” may be prone to neglect work or family obligations as they juggle their daily duties.
If any of these factors sound familiar, you may want to consider the numerous benefits of moving your loved one into a specialized memory care household, like Marjorie P. Lee in Cincinnati’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
The Benefits of Professional Memory Care
1. They’re optimized for safe senior living.
A memory care facility is designed to meet the unique needs of aging Alzheimer’s clients. Most offer enhanced security and/or enclosed outdoor spaces to prevent wandering. Residences are typically optimized for fall prevention, such as removing rugs that are trip hazards and arranging furniture and grab bars to make moving around easier. Households may even have shared and private spaces to encourage residents to come together for meals or other activities.
2. They help older adults with dementia stay engaged.
Memory support, including cognitive therapies and other wellness activities, can slow mental and physical decline. Most family caregivers aren’t experts; they just do what they can because they love their family member. But expertise can play an essential role in the quality of life for those with dementia.
Whether your loved one prefers art therapy, music therapy, or another activity, staying engaged through expert-led therapies contributes to a better quality of life and can even slow down the progression of dementia.
3. They help you make the most of your time with your loved one.
Families can find more moments to cherish. Instead of daily pressures that can wear caregivers down, moving a parent or loved one to a memory care household gives families better balance, allowing them to truly enjoy the time they spend with their aging loved one.
Deciding to move a parent with Alzheimer’s to a memory care household isn’t easy. Niki Gewirtz, a Senior Living Advisor for A Place for Mom, writes that “It’s a very emotional decision for anyone to place a loved one in memory care. There’s often a stigma about it, but there shouldn’t be.”
The peace of mind you get is important too. Gewirtz points out, “You’re letting experts care for your family, and it’s important to prioritize your mental and physical health, too.”
If you’re weighing the benefits of memory support for a loved one with dementia, take a closer look at how Marjorie P. Lee and Episcopal Retirement Services are working to provide intimate living environments, quality programming and care, innovative training programs, and community outreach to help families cherish every moment.