Perhaps the most frightening thing about aging is the possibility of losing our mental faculties. How many times have you heard the phrase, “They’re becoming forgetful in their old age?” In fact, “forgetfulness” might be the most common stereotype for the elderly in our society and has been for some time. Hearing that your aging grandmother had to wrap, unwrap and rewrap the same gift several times because she forgot what was in it and who it was for might make you chuckle, but you probably wouldn’t give it much thought after that. Then a few weeks later you find out she turned on the oven, forgot about it and left it running for hours. Would you still be laughing then? Probably not. What you originally shrugged off as, “just grandma getting older,” seems a lot more serious all of a sudden. What you don’t realize is that the issue has been slowly manifesting for some time. Now the next question is, “What’s to be done?” This is what memory care has been developed for.
What is memory care?
Memory care refers to specialized settings offering stepped-up services for people with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. It is a service more and more long term care and assisted living facilities are offering. In these facilities, there are, of course, different levels of care depending how far along the disease has progressed and how their symptoms manifest. This could mean being in an Assisted Living facility in general population or a more secured facility with alarms and enclosed outdoor areas to prevent patients from wandering off. Long term care facilities that offer this kind of care will also have staff that is specially trained to treat and care for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia and what the differences in treatment are for those diseases. Most importantly, they will treat your loved one with patience and dignity, not like a child.
What memory care facility cannot do.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Here is a startling statistic from the Alzheimer’s Association:
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.
Essentially, all you can do is watch for the signs and try to manage it. Speaking of watching for the signs, don’t just concentrate or show concern for those 65 and up. Around 5% of people with Alzheimer’s have early onset Alzheimer’s which can start manifesting in people in their 40s and 50s. Which means that contrary to popular belief, Alzheimer’s and dementia aren’t just a disease of the elderly.