When it comes time to look into long term care for a loved one, there’s a lot of new knowledge to learn. One of the first things people realize in their research is that long term care is not one size fits all. There are assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and memory care facilities, among other options. Each type of facility caters to specific patient needs and medical conditions.
A memory care facility cares for patients who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of memory impairment. But old age presents many limitations that didn’t exist earlier. How do you know that the issues your loved one is battling are related to memory? Many people think of classic scenes from movies—elderly parents who can’t remember the names of their children or grandchildren, or who think that a deceased loved one is still alive and well.
While these symptoms throw up clear red flags, they often don’t present themselves until later on in your loved one’s decline. Memory impairments typically come on gradually, and they can be difficult to recognize. A loved one can be living in a healthy or even potentially dangerous situation before these more stereotypical symptoms present themselves. So what should you look for?
Health and Hygiene
Self-care is often one of the first things to diminish when memory impairment issues begin to present themselves. Medication management is a particular area worth paying attention too. Very often, loved ones will forget to take their medication at the proper time—or perhaps more dangerously, forget they’ve taken their medication and take it again before they should.
These same issues crop up when it comes to preparing meals. A loved one may begin to lose weight quickly as they forget to eat or struggle to prepare meals, or they may accidentally repeat meals and begin to put on weight. Items left out of the refrigerator for hours on end or expired items piling up can also be a sign that memory is beginning to diminish.
A lack of personal hygiene can also offer insight into a loved one’s struggle with memory impairment. Unwashed or wrinkled clothes, wearing things backwards or inside out, unkempt facial hair, and more are all things to watch out for.
Finances and Home Care
When you visit your loved one, be on the lookout for fire or water damage. These can be indications that an oven burner or sink faucet was left on, or that a cigarette was left burning. These issues are particularly concerning, as they can create incredibly dangerous scenarios. You may also notice clutter building up around the house. This can indicate that your loved one is repeating purchases they’ve forgot they already made.
Someone dealing with memory impairment may also forget to pay bills. Keeping an eye out for unpaid bills and helping your loved one with the management of their finances can help you catch potential problems before they cause an issue.
Differences from the Norm
It can be difficult, but it’s important not to become overly anxious in your concern over your aging loved one. Some of the issues above are concerns in their own right, but others only merit worry when they differ from the norm. If you’ve never seen your father with an unshaven face, and suddenly he always looks stubbly, you may want to investigate further. But if he’s never made a habit of shaving all that regularly, you probably don’t need to worry.
If the behaviors or personality of your loved one seem to be changing, it may be time to consider contacting a memory care provider like The Woodleigh in Baton Rouge, LA. Contact us today if you would like a tour of our memory care unit.