Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Eldercare Q-A: Mom has a new dementia diagnosis. Will she need memory care?

 Memory care.  When someone is diagnosed with dementia, their family ponders the possibility of the need for such specialized care. Perhaps you're in that situation.

The key is possibility.  Not everyone with dementia needs specialized memory care.

What triggers the need for memory care?  Behaviors like screaming, striking out at others, and behaving inappropriately, such as using a waste basket for a toilet, all indicate a need for memory care.  So does "exit seeking."  That's a term for someone who impulsively and repeatedly heads for the outside door of his home or assisted living community.  Another indicator of a need for memory care?  People with dementia who can no longer feed themselves.  There are others, but you get the idea.

If your parent has just been diagnosed, he or she doesn't likely need memory care immediately.  Often a smaller assisted living community may meet his or her needs during the early to moderate stages of the disease.  Your parent can retreat to his or her apartment when the stimulation of the dining room and social activities gets to be too much.  Caring staff can make his or her days go well.  And if the disease progresses to the point of needing memory care, they should be able to tell you.

In many assisted living communities nationwide, the memory care area is in the same building.  Often residents begin in the regular assisted living section, and then move to memory care if and when the need arises.

Another option for elders with moderate to severe memory issues is adult family homes.  These may or may not be available in your parent's state.  But if they are, they're a good alternative for many with dementia.  There's a high staffing ratio, often one staff member for three residents, and the small setting allows caregivers to keep a watchful eye over residents who are at risk for falls. 

If  your parent will need Medicaid funding, care options will likely be limited.  Often adult family homes and nursing homes are the only Medicaid-funded choices for those with moderate to advanced dementia.


  1. That's an interesting conundrum you have presented. The well-being of people entails their minds, as well as their physical capacities, mainly because our minds can be a world of our own, and a separate life lived will be parallel to the ones that we have actually experienced. It's important to watch out for that as caregivers to dementia patients, and to be wary of its symptoms and other consequences. Anyway, thanks for sharing that! All the best!

    Michelle Simmons @ Comfort Keepers

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