When a loved one starts showing signs of memory disease, like Alzheimer’s or dementia, we don’t often act right away but experts say making a move earlier rather than later might make this difficult transition easier for everyone.
It is very difficult when you start to see the signs in a loved one that there might be memory disease involved here. What should families be on the lookout for? Mimi Piciullo, executive director, Juniper Glen Assisted Living and Memory Care says to check the medications. Are they taking the medications as they should; are they eating what’s in their fridge; is there expired food in the fridge; is their hygiene changing? Is that person who is usually fastidious about their own personal appearance, suddenly not seeming so clean, you smell some odors, maybe the house isn’t kept as well as it used to be? Mimi says those are tall tale markers that they are not able to manage anymore.
Mimi says the first good step is to talk to a doctor or a neurologist and get a cognitive assessment done to see and get a baseline of where they are at. Maybe there have been some med errors and that’s causing some confusion that can may be easily fixed by adjusting that. Maybe there is something medically going on but maybe it is the beginning of dementia and there are a couple of medications that sometimes can slow the progress down a little bit or maybe they really need some extra support to be able to safely manage.
Deciding on whether your family member needs to be in a facility that can provide for their specific needs can be very difficult for families. Mimi says it is so hard for them to even start thinking and contemplating that and the situation is kind of pretty rough when they decide to do it and families frequently are exhausted trying to manage their own lives. They may still be working or caring for grandchildren or their own children and managing two households and the needs of a senior who is starting to decline. Mimi says it is always best to make this transition into assisted living or memory care earlier than later and families are usually resistant to that. She says I get it because it is hard to force someone you love to move from their beloved home into congregant living but the earlier they get there the faster is their adjustments and it becomes their new normal because, usually they are very lonely, isolated and family can visit but you don’t fill that social need that we have, you know like when we were younger, we could get out and drive and do things. Now they can’t and they are really lonely. Mimi says that’s the beautiful thing about assisted living; we fill that gap. They get to do interesting things and they are back with people their age, they are having fun, and there is nice staff taking care of them. So, she says, if we can get them in here early and into a normal routine, their day is pretty set, the same every day but filled with interesting things where the people around them are the same and how we move throughout the day is the same and this is quite comforting for people with dementia.
Besides having a really great community, what else should families be looking for when choosing the right facility for our loved one? Mimi says, for us, the key is our design; we only do one thing, we care for those with dementia and we’ve got this beautiful open concept. She says once you are through the main doors, we are in a big, secure facility where those who really like to walk and wander and move, they have plenty of space to do that here. She says because we only do memory care, our staff are well experienced with getting someone who is more confused, who will sometimes be more resistant to care and our staff is used to that because that’s what we do, that’s what we do best is care for that kind of resident. She says it is a really loving community not only for the residents but for each other, like we have fun together taking care of these residents, you can feel it; when you enter a community you can usually feel that vibe and this community has that vibe.
For more information give them a call at 716-902-3361.