In an effort to raise awareness, educate our community and assist families who have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease, this month’s article will give families and friends some tips to help recognize when it may be time to explore the decision of moving the person with Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia into Assisted Living with Memory Care. Here are some tell-tale signs families can look for in recognizing it may be time for Memory Care Assisted Living:

Wandering: In later stages of dementia, risks related to wandering become much greater says, Rita Vasquez, M.A., an MFTI Clinician. “They can wander even if you just take time to go to the bathroom,” she says, and the probability of falls and injuries increases.

Sun-downing: Sun-downing is a term that describes an agitated state that becomes more pronounced later in the day or when the person is wakeful at night and not sleeping. Vasquez notes that this can take a heavy toll on caregivers, and when it begins to severely disrupt family routines, this may be a sign that caring for the person may be too hard to handle.

Aggression: Verbal and physical aggression can be experienced in those with dementia. Caregivers and family members may suffer or begin to feel resentful. When it is getting to this level it may be time to start considering a move to assisted living with memory care.

Home Safety: Ask yourself honest questions about the person you care for, your own health, and ability to care for them. Is the person with dementia becoming unsafe in their current home? Are you becoming unsafe in caring for this person?

Escalating Care Needs: Is the health of the person with dementia or my health and well-being as a caregiver at risk? Are the person’s care needs beyond my physical capabilities? If you’re answering yes to those questions, it may be time to discuss the decision to move.

Caregiver stress: Stress and other caregiver symptoms can be just as telling a sign as the dementia symptoms described above. Remember; your health and well-being are just as important as the person you are caring for.

If after reading this, you are feeling that the person you are caring for needs more help than you can give, reach out and talk with someone you trust; a friend, family member, your family physician or a caregiver consultant.

Planning ahead, getting informed, and involving the appropriate people in the decision will ensure ease in the process when it is time to transition the person you care for. Vasquez encourages us, “The best way to be there for them, is to know that they are in the proper place for getting the care that they need. Visit communities before choosing one, and make sure they have activities and medical support appropriate to people with dementia. Remember, that if you have done the research, they will thrive wherever you move them. We have to know that as a human being, we can only do so much without taxing our health.”

Asking for help when you need it does not show weakness, it shows tremendous strength. Let’s ACT together to create and sustain a dementia friendly community. There is Hope. There is Help.

The Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group will meet the third Tuesday of each month, on Feb. 16, from 10-11:30 a.m. The group meets at Heritage Center at GracePointe Crossing, 322 River Hills Place N., Cambridge. For more information contact Molly Carlson at mcarlson@preshomes.org or call 763-691-6172.

• Alzheimer’s Association, Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter, www.alz.org/mnnd, 800-272-3900 24-hour helpline.

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