This is a great question. And the truth is there is no simple answer. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease does not necessarily mean you have to move someone right away. A lot depends on what stage in the disease process Mom is when she was diagnosed. If she is in the early stages, mom may be able to live in a more independent environment for a while. Of course, it is important that someone checks in on her regularly. Not monitored, the situation could change drastically causing a crisis.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association symptoms in the early stages include:
- Problems coming up with the right word or name
- Trouble remembering names when introduced to new people
- Challenges performing tasks in social or work settings.
- Losing or misplacing a valuable object, like jewelry.
- Inability to plan or organize things
Someone in this stage may still drive, work, participate in social activities. In fact, it can often be hard for families to recognize that there is a real problem. That is unless they see the individual daily. If someone you love has been diagnosed at this stage it will give you an opportunity to research resources. You will need resources later on. Don’t wait. This is also a good time to visit memory care homes and facilities. Really good ones often have a waitlist.
Do You Have A Team?
If Mom has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s but is still in the first stage this is the time to set up a team. Does Mom live alone?
If the answer is yes who can check in on her regularly? While you do not want to smother someone in this stage, with attention, it is important to keep an eye on any changes. As the disease progresses more care will be needed. A device like a Facebook Portal can easily allow you and mom to stay connected. This is great when you cannot physically be there. Mom can simply tell the device to “Call Carol” and you will be able to connect via video chat.
Talk to the church Mom attends.
Could someone there be on your team to check in from time to time? Likewise, talk to the neighbors. Ask if they would stop by once a week and keep you informed of any changes or concerns. Most people will not volunteer information. They may not want to interfere in your life. However, if you ask, most people will be glad to help. Especially if this is someone who Mom had known for a long time.
Stop By Often
Someone will need to physically drop by at least a few times a week. Make sure mom has food and is eating properly. Take a look in the refrigerator. Do you notice moldy food? Take a look at the car. If there are any dents or scratches that were not there before this is a red flag. Talk to mom about giving up the car keys and using a service like Uber or Lfyte.
This is also the time to get all of the necessary legal documents in order. See an elder law attorney to make sure you have everything you need.
When the Symptoms Worsen
The mid-stage is often the longest and can go on for years. In this stage, the symptoms may become more noticeable. Hopefully, you and your team have been paying attention. In the mid-stage you may notice:
- Mood changes and depression
- Forgetfulness or confusion about what really happened
- Help may be needed to choose appropriate clothing
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping all day and up all night.)
- Confusion about where they are or what day it is.
- Personality and behavioral changes, including paranoia and delusions
- Compulsive, repetitive behavior like hand-wringing or tissue shredding
- And probably the most worrisome: wandering and getting lost
Getting lost is a huge concern. We have all seen the Silver Alert billboards and notices on our smartphones. And no one wants Mom or dad to be a victim. Hopefully, you have been paying attention. As such you have taken away the car keys. This is not easy. Though Mom may easily give up her keys today. She may be upset tomorrow when she cannot find her car keys or she discovers that her car is missing out of the driveway.
If you have been the primary care partner for Mom you may be starting to feel a bit overwhelmed at this stage. Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s is not a one-person job.
This is the stage where you should really consider placement in a memory care facility. This is not a nursing home. In fact, the smaller ones like Sycamore Creek Ranch Memory Care look more like a home. Designed specifically for patients with Alzheimer’s and other types of Dementia these homes have plenty of room for someone to wander around. There is even a large backyard and patio area that is secured. This allows residents to come and go outside as they please. And it alleviates the feeling of being locked in.
Memory Care Homes are small enough to be able to personalize the care to each individual. Our staff members are trained to know how to communicate with the residents. Even the ones who may not be able to speak or who seem to talk gibberish. And because they do not have a history with the person, the staff is able to accept each person for who they are today. While a daughter or son may be appalled and embarrassed by mom’s behavior, a trained caregiver is not. They have no expectation.
If you think it may be time for memory Care placement, you are probably right. Stop by today for a visit or contact us and get on our waitlist.