When someone with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia is admitted to a memory care unit, it’s an adjustment for the person as well as for the family. Sometimes family members struggle with conflicting feelings of guilt, regret, and relief. Even when it’s clear that their loved one needs 24/7 care and a facility is the safest place for him/her to be, it’s seldom an easy decision to make.

Key points for families to know include the following:

  • People with dementia thrive on routine. It takes time for the person to get used to the routine in the facility, adjust to the new environment, and become accustomed to relying on staff. For this reason, it may be best if family members refrain from taking the person out on excursions for at least three months.
  • Falls can happen. While memory care offers 24/7 supervision, it’s important for family members to have realistic expectations and understand that their loved one will not have one-on-one care and attention. Accidents and falls can happen just as they do at home, in spite of preventative measures.
  • No facility is perfect. There may be times another resident’s television is too loud, someone with dementia demonstrates behavioral problems, or it takes extra time before the bathroom is cleaned or the laundry is done. Of course family members should speak up and advocate for their loved one when they have concerns, but minor problems are likely to occur no matter how well-intentioned the staff members are.

Family members should also keep in mind that their loved one’s disease influences his/her behavior and perceptions. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, people may experience behavioral and personality changes such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. Symptoms in middle and later stages may include anger and aggression, delusions, and emotional outbursts. These challenging behaviors can be distressing to family members, especially if their loved one seems agitated or unhappy. It’s helpful for family members to communicate with staff, participate in care planning, and ask to be informed of changes in their loved one’s condition and care needs.

Senior Transitions helps families with transitions. If we can help you, please let us know. We can be reached at 850-894-6720 or via e-mail at info@gcmsolutions.net.

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