Almost all of us have experienced a normal lapse in memory, especially as we get older: forgetting the name of someone we’ve known a long time, having trouble remembering the right word, or wondering why we came into a room the moment we entered it.
But when is this normal – and when is it a serious sign of memory loss? How do we know when it may be time for memory care? And if memory care is needed, how do we find the right memory care community?
Memory care, explained.
While team members at a memory care community like ours at Oak Trace prepare meals for residents and help with activities of daily living like bathing and dressing, memory care is different from the assisted living or skilled nursing care that’s also available at a full-service senior living community.
Memory care facilities provide a safe, secure, and structured environment for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. At Oak Trace, our new memory care neighborhood is made up of private suites, with common gathering areas for dining and activities that offer opportunities for residents to engage. Our new Health & Wellness Center features HUR equipment, which is specialized strength training equipment specifically designed for older adults, so memory care residents can continue to enjoy the benefits of physical activity, safely.
Team members have also received extensive training on providing care to people who have Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia. Highly trained team members understand how to work with residents and address their unique needs, providing support to help residents navigate their days. At Oak Trace, our team members work seamlessly with one another to provide specialized care personalized to each resident’s needs.
Understanding Alzheimer’s and dementia
Though often used interchangeably, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are actually two different conditions. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that accounts for up to 80 percent of dementia cases. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
In 1901, German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer first identified the degenerative brain disease in a 50-year-old patient who showed symptoms of dementia and memory loss. Initially called “presenile dementia,” early medical literature soon began referring to it as Alzheimer’s disease. Symptoms include disorientation, confusion and behavior changes. Eventually, speaking and swallowing become difficult.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the most common early symptom is trouble remembering new information. That’s because the disease initially impacts the part of the brain associated with learning. The greatest known risk factor for Alzheimer’s is age.
What is dementia?
Dementia isn’t a specific disease; it’s the overall term for a group of symptoms, including a decline in memory, reasoning or other thinking skills. Many types of dementia exist, and there are many conditions known to cause it, such as Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or a traumatic brain injury. Unlike Alzheimer’s disease, dementia is not a normal part of aging.
Learning the signs of memory loss
As we mentioned earlier, occasional lapses in memory are normal as we age. But again: Memory loss that disrupts daily life may be a sign of something more serious.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are 10 warning signs of memory loss:
- Forgetting recently learned information. Also forgetting important dates or asking the same questions repeatedly.
- Trouble planning or problem-solving. This may involve issues working with numbers, like keeping track of monthly bills or following a recipe.
- Struggling to complete familiar tasks, such as having issues driving to a familiar place.
- Time or place confusion, like losing track of the date or the season.
- Vision problems or trouble judging distance. These may lead to balance issues or problems determining color or contrast.
- Trouble following a conversation – or issues with finding the right words while speaking or writing.
- Losing things or putting things in unusual places. They may also be unable to retrace their steps to find the lost item.
- Increasingly poor judgment, or trouble with decision-making.
- Withdrawing from social activities or engagements. This often happens because they struggle to keep up with or join conversations.
- Mood or personality changes. They may become suspicious, anxious, depressed or confused.
Recognizing it’s time for memory care
In 2020, 16 million American caregivers provided over 18 billion hours of unpaid care to someone with Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Usually, that’s a spouse, sibling or other family member trying to meet their loved one’s specialized needs. And beyond the financial burdens, caregiving can take a massive emotional toll as well.
Here are some signs it may be time for you to consider memory care for your loved one:
- You worry about your loved one’s safety – or your own safety while you’re with your loved one.
- Your loved one wanders constantly.
- Your loved one is isolated or lonely.
- You’re emotionally and physically exhausted.
- You want to spend precious time with your loved one and let someone else handle the professional care.
A memory care community like Oak Trace is specifically designed to meet the needs of someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. And our memory care team members can take the burden of caregiving from your shoulders, so you can truly be their brother, sister, son or daughter, wife or husband again.
Get in touch with Oak Trace.
If you’d like to learn more about our approach to memory care, let’s start the conversation. Together, we’ll find the right care for the person you love. Call us at 1.888.679.2568, or complete and submit the form on this page.