Many families think that home and familiar surroundings will be the best place for their loved one facing a memory loss illness. Yet, people with memory loss need around-the-clock supervision, constant companionship and structured activities throughout the day to thrive.
If you are wondering about your loved one’s ability to remain in his or her own home, here are some practical considerations regarding home safety and independence, cognitive abilities, social situation and overall well-being. Problems or issues in any of these categories indicate changes in daily functioning abilities, decreased judgment, loss of executive functioning and working memory and indicate a clear problem.
Maintaining a Home
- Is your loved one able to handle house and yard work? Do you notice laundry piling up?
- Has your loved one fallen behind on bills? Is old mail piling up? Increased clutter?
- What is the condition of items in the refrigerator? Are food items adequate in supply and not expired by date?
- Is your loved one able to shop for food items to meet their weekly nutritional needs?
Health, Hygiene and Safety
- Can your Mom or Dad shower and bathe regularly without help? Has personal hygiene changed?
- Is your Mom or Dad able to schedule and remember medical appointments? Can they explain and follow through with their doctors’ recommendations?
- Is your Mom or Dad forgetting to take their medications?
- Is your loved one still cooking every day? Is he or she maintaining a healthy weight and getting some form of exercise?
- Do you worry about your loved one’s safety when alone and cooking?
- Have you questioned if your Mom or Dad should still be driving? Has your loved one become lost while driving a familiar route?
- Has your loved one experienced a crisis situation recently such as a hospitalization or an episode of wandering away from home and not remembering how to get back?
- Would your loved one know what to do for a household emergency, such as a small flood or fire?
Cognition, Social Interaction and Isolation
- Does your loved one interact in a socially appropriate manner for light conversation, and yet if the conversation becomes more complex, they do not follow or respond appropriately?
- If you have one parent that you are worried about, does the other parent often answer for them?
- Does your loved one frequently misplace items? Do you ever find items in an unexpected place?
- Has your Mom or Dad lost interest in day-to-day activities and social activities? Does your loved one make excuses why they don’t participate with friends or engage in social events or church activities?
- Do you think your loved one feels isolated, lonely, bored or agitated?
- Does your loved one forget your recent visits or calls?
- Does your loved one seem to be withdrawn, fearful or depressed? Has his or her manner or character changed?
- Does your loved one deny any problems or refuse to discuss the situation, even though you may have answered “yes” to several of the questions above?
I know this is A LOT to consider. If you answered “yes” to some of the questions above, it may be time to consider a move to a secure, stimulating, social environment where your mom or dad’s needs can be met by professionals giving you peace of mind and them a higher quality of life.