When Home is No Longer the Best Option
By Lynn Wood
Home should be our safe place. However, with a diagnosis of dementia, is it possible for home to remain the safest place for a person to grow old?
This is a difficult question, one that will need to be asked repeatedly as things change. Having a loved one stay at home throughout the aging process may be what everyone wants, but will it result in the best quality of life for all involved? There is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Sometimes moving the older adult to a safer living environment is the best option. How can you tell when it's time? If you notice any of the following behaviors, it's a clear signal that the time has come to consider moving an elderly loved one to a safer setting.
Wandering is one dementia-related behavior that is challenging to manage. An older adult who wanders out the front door can be at risk for injury or even death. An assisted living community with a secure memory care unit can offer some peace of mind, giving older adults the freedom to move about in a safe and protected environment.
A memory care setting is also great for people living with dementia who have trouble communicating with others. Staff in a memory care setting are usually trained to deal with a variety of behaviors and the constant change that accompanies a dementia diagnosis.
Lack of Social Contact
It's important to consider the role social contact plays in the dementia process. Isolation and loneliness can be very harmful for anyone, and for people living with dementia, the consequences can be even worse. Depression and anxiety are very common. Moving your loved one into a community setting where there are a variety of age groups and personalities is a great way for older adults to make social connections that will exercise the brain, which is especially important for dementia patients. The activities planned also allow for your loved ones to have choice in their day, which is a wonderful way for someone to maintain their independence and the sense of being in control.
If you are the main caregiver for an older adult, moving that adult into an assisted living community makes it possible for you to remove the caregiving hat and go back to just being the spouse or the child.
Making the decision to move an elderly loved one is never a simple matter. Give careful consideration to the pros and cons for everyone involved as you consider what setting will make the best "home" for your loved one.
Lynn Wood is a Certified Dementia Specialist and Caregiver Support Coordinator at Mental Health America of the MidSouth, an educational non-profit providing vital resources to Middle and West Tennessee with the goal to provide the right help at the right time to individuals experiencing mental health challenges. For more information, call (615) 269-5355 or visit https://mhamidsouth.org/.