7 Questions to Ask When Considering Memory Care

mother and daughter reading tablet and smiling, selecting memory care

If you are unsure whether it’s time to consider Memory Care, these health, capability, and wellness questions can help

Are you considering memory care for a loved one with dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease? So many factors go into such a difficult decision, with a loved one’s well-being at the top of the list, followed by the well-being of others such as caregivers. How do you determine what is best for all involved? The Alzheimer’s Association has assembled a list of Memory Care Assessment Questions1 to help you and we’re taking a closer look at some of the factors to consider.

Is the person with dementia becoming unsafe in his or her current home?

The home contains many potential dangers, especially for someone with cognitive decline. Prescriptions, household products, sharp objects and appliances such as stoves can all pose hazards. Alzheimer’s can affect an individual’s ability to move around, see, smell, touch, hear and/or taste, which can increase the likelihood of falls and injuries. Individuals may also wander from home or forget how to use the phone during an emergency, putting them at additional risk.

Is the health of the person with dementia at risk?

Cognitive function, memory, thinking and behavior can all suffer due to dementia. Mobility, trouble eating and drinking and loss of bladder and bowel control can also accompany dementia. Is remaining at home increasing these health concerns? Could the staff and structure of memory care better address and manage evolving issues? Consider these questions to help determine when or when not to choose memory care.

Is a caregiver’s health at risk?

Caregivers may feel burnt out. As the disease progresses into the late-stages, the need for round-the-clock care often increases. According to Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience2, studies show that people who care for someone with dementia are more likely to experience health issues. This can include depression and anxiety; cardiovascular problems; lower immunity; and higher levels of chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis, ulcers and anemia. These health issues can lead to more doctor visits and prescriptions; less physical activity; and a potential increase in smoking, drinking alcohol and problems sleeping.

Are the person’s care needs beyond the caregiver’s physical abilities?

Caring for someone with dementia can be physically demanding, including bathing, dressing and toileting. If such tasks become too difficult for a caregiver, it can put them and their loved one at risk for injury and health problems. It is important to honestly assess this question to prevent such problems.

Is the caregiver becoming stressed, irritable and impatient?

The mental and emotional well-being of a caregiver is just as important as their physical well-being. As noted above, caregivers are at risk for many health concerns. Stress can cause or worsen those problems. Also, if a caregiver becomes irritable and/or impatient, it can strain relationships between with the one they are caring for and others. There are support groups available to help caregivers navigate this.

Is the caregiver neglecting work responsibilities, family and/or their self?

As caring for a loved one with dementia becomes more involved, caring for oneself and fulfilling other responsibilities may become more difficult. It is understandable to prioritize the care of your loved one, but it is also important to remember to care for yourself and others. If your relationships with others or your work performance are suffering, it may be time to ask for help.

Would structure and social interaction at memory care benefit the person with dementia?

Memory care structures vary from site to site, but common themes include activities, a consistent schedule, and opportunities for interaction with others; all overseen by specially trained caregivers. The goal of this structure is to reduce agitation, minimize health concerns and improve mood. According to a study published in the Journal of Biomedical Science3, “social interaction rescues Alzheimer patients’ memory deficit by increasing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression.” In other words, yes, social interaction can benefit those with dementia.

If a transition to memory care does become necessary, family or friends may have strong feelings of guilt or sadness. Considering these questions and talking through feelings with staff members at the community you choose—as well as talking with your loved one—can make a big difference to how everyone feels about the changes being experienced.

Note: This is not medical advice. Please consult a healthcare professional for personal medical guidance.

Decisions about moving or caring for a loved one can be difficult to navigate. At Meadowview of Davenport and Cassia, we are here to help. If you have questions now, please contact Casey Chenoweth at Cassandra.Chenoweth@CassiaLife.org or 563-296-5020.

  1. https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/care-options/long-term-care
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/journals/tdcn20
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5764000/?mod=article_inline