U.S. Alzheimer’s Association studies show that, in 2021, more than six million Americans were living with Alzheimer’s. One in three seniors dies from a form of dementia, and over 11 million citizens are unpaid caregivers for people who have dementia. Because care can be complex as the condition advances, thousands of Texas families are turning to communities that provide unique care programs designed for those suffering from all forms of dementia and the associated mental decline.
Memory Loss Requires Special Care
Senior citizens typically want to remain independent for as long as possible, and close families often step in and watch over aging relatives. The arrangement may work well but can be extremely difficult if seniors develop memory loss. As a result, even the most devoted families sometimes need to transfer relatives to senior communities equipped to handle their needs.
While states like Texas include thousands of senior communities, not all communities offer memory care services. Residents experiencing memory issues need programs targeted to their needs. Their environments must be highly structured, safe, and include regular routines. Staff members need to have special training.
According to U.S. News Health, there are common indicators that indicate someone needs specialized care for memory loss and typical associated mental health issues. Signs include:
- Behavioral changes. People developing dementia often change dramatically. Those who are outgoing might become withdrawn, apprehensive, or wary of social interaction. Neat, well-groomed people may become careless about their appearance and neglect daily hygiene.
- Disorientation and confusion. Residents developing dementia can become confused and disoriented, which may lead to accidents. They might go outdoors, wander around, and forget how to get home. When peoples’ symptoms put them in physical danger, they are safer in communities offering a dementia program.
- Health problems. Many dementia residents forget to buy groceries or take medications. This can cause a noticeable difference in their appearance and cause them to look frail.
- Loss of a caregiver. When those with dementia lose a caregiver, they may need to move to an assisted living community with a memory loss program.
- Incontinence. While family members and other caregivers can often deal with many issues associated with memory loss, coping with incontinence can be overwhelming. A community with a unique memory loss program has the resources to keep incontinent residents comfortable.
Dementia is Associated with Mental Decline
Specialists who care for residents with memory loss offer programs for Alzheimer’s residents and those who have dementia. Although the two conditions are often considered the same, there are differences.
The National Institute on Aging defines dementia as, “the loss of cognitive functioning — thinking, remembering, and reasoning — to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.” The syndrome is most common among the aged, and it is estimated that as many as one-third of those who are 85 and older may have dementia.
In contrast, Alzheimer’s is a specific kind of dementia linked to memory loss and problems with behavior and thinking. The disease typically appears after age 60 and gets progressively worse over time. Approximately 50% to 80% of dementia residents have Alzheimer’s.
Caregivers Ensure Dementia residents Enjoy a Full Life
There are some misconceptions about what memory loss communities can provide. Many think they are either places to “park” those with memory loss or rehab centers to help residents get better. In fact, communities offering dementia care programs are committed to assisting residents to maintain function for as long as possible. Residents of communities are also safer, enjoy better health and social engagement, and get help with personal care.
Memory loss programs typically include:
- Around-the-clock supervision and care
- Memory-improving activities
- Help with personal care
- Healthy meals
- Mobility assistance
- Housekeeping and laundry
What to Look for in Communities
About 10,000 U.S. citizens turn 65 each day, a trend that has spurred the growth of senior communities. However, not all of those communities offer the same services, so families seeking memory loss care must know how to locate the right options for their family member’s needs.
It is crucial to tour each of the communities to ensure they are clean, pleasant, and have circular hallways that prevent residents from getting frustrated by dead ends. Doors should be labeled to make it easy for residents to find their way, and residents should seem happy.
Staff members should be carefully trained in dementia care, and there should always be a nurse available. The best communities offer a wide range of activities and healthy meals. Staff members know residents personally. Families should also check the level of care communities can provide. Some are not equipped for certain behaviors or conditions.
Every year, thousands of Americans develop memory loss associated with dementia. Many need to move into communities specially equipped to deal with their needs. These communities care for residents’ physical and mental health and ensure they have the best quality of life possible. It is wise for families to tour various communities since services can vary widely.
Orchard Park of Permian Basin is a senior community offering independent and assisting living and memory care services. Our experienced staff provides residents with a range of engaging activities and comprehensive care.