Considering Memory Care for Your Aging Parent? Here's What You Should Know

Mar 02, 2024
Considering Memory Care for Your Aging Parent? Here's What You Should Know
Your parent forgets key moments in their life, stumbles over finding the right noun, or gets lost in familiar environments. When a parent exhibits signs of dementia, you may start to consider memory care. Here’s what to know.

More than 6 million older women and men in the United States have symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other forms of dementia.  If your parent is among them, you may be in a panic about what to do to help them.

Dementia is the second-most feared disease in the United States, preceded only by cancer. Living with dementia often feels like a nightmare to the person who has it; it may feel like a nightmare to the sufferer’s family, too.

You’ve considered memory care, but they want to stay in their home. Is that even possible?

At Precise Research Centers, our founder, Joseph Kwentus, MD, conducts clinical trials with new medications for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia at our offices in Flowood, Mississippi. There’s no cost associated with being in a clinical trial.

Is your parent ready for memory care? Or would they be better served by first trying a medication?

What stage of dementia does your parent have?

When your parent first exhibits problems with their memory, it may come as a shock. After all, they’ve been the keeper of the family history since you were born, yet now they may not be able to remember their own birthday.

Unfortunately, once you recognize signs of dementia in your parent, they won’t get better on their own. Alzheimer’s and most other forms of dementia are progressive and incurable. 

A diagnosis is the first step toward deciding whether it’s time to move your parent into memory care. Depending on their stage of disease, they may be able to retain independence with proper medication and supervision.

Mild Alzheimer’s

The earliest stage of Alzheimer’s may be difficult to distinguish from “normal” age-related forgetting. Symptoms include:

  • Struggling to find the right word, especially nouns
  • Forgetting names
  • Forgetting material they just read
  • Losing or misplacing valuable objects
  • Having trouble performing at work or in social situations
  • Repeating themselves during conversations
  • Having trouble planning or organizing 

In this stage of dementia, your parent may be able to care for themselves without the need to move into a facility. An early stage of AD is the optimal time for starting medication, which may be able to keep them independent and functional for a long time.

Moderate Alzheimer’s

The middle, moderate stage can last for many years. As AD symptoms grow in severity, your parent may require more care than you can give. Symptoms of moderate Alzheimer’s include:

  • Forgetting important events
  • Forgetting their own personal history
  • Feeling or acting moody 
  • Not knowing where they are or what day it is
  • Having trouble choosing proper clothing for the season or occasion
  • Urinary or fecal incontinence
  • Having sleep troubles, such as daytime sleepiness and nighttime restlessness
  • Wandering or getting lost

If your parent is in the early stage of moderate AD, they may still benefit from new medications and participation in a clinical trial. They may also need occupational therapy and behavioral therapy.

Severe Alzheimer’s

If your parent has moved out of the moderate category and into severe Alzheimer’s, they need to be in memory care or in a nursing home for their safety and health. Signs that AD is now severe are:

  • Requires 24/7 assistance with personal care.
  • Loses awareness of recent experiences
  • Forgets where they are
  • Trouble walking, sitting, or swallowing
  • Trouble communicating
  • Prone to infections, especially pneumonia

Are they happy and safe while living independently?

While memory care is essential for later stages of disease, moving can be disruptive and dysregulating in earlier stages. In fact, the stress and trauma of moving and losing independence may initially worsen their symptoms.

If your parent is still in the mild to moderate stage, it may be possible to keep them at home if they get help for their illness. Contact our office for an evaluation to see if your parent qualifies for a clinical trial for new medications to help slow their disease. 

Are you able to help them stay compliant?

Even if your parent is in a mild or moderate stage and doesn’t want to move to a memory care facility, they must take their medication to qualify for a clinical trial. Since forgetfulness is a hallmark of AD, they need somebody to oversee their medications and make sure they take them as prescribed.

If you’re not able to do that, you may need to hire a home health aide. If that’s not possible either, it may be time for memory care.

To help your parent slow the progression of AD with novel medications, get an in-depth dementia consultation by contacting our office today. Call us at 601-685-3457 or book an appointment online. You can also send a message to our team on the website.