Is memory care appropriate for my mom with Alzheimer's? - AgingCare.com

Is memory care appropriate for my mom with Alzheimer's?

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She was recently diagnosed. Her testing showed her short-term memory was zero (70 was passing, she scored zero). She calls me multiple times all day and into the night, but doesn't remember talking to me. I recently had surgery, and checked the messages she left to make sure there wasn't something that needed attention. She has rummaged around in her office, pulling things from the filing cabinets, so that the place is a total mess. I have put most of her bills on auto-pay, but she still tries to pay them...albeit late. When is memory care appropriate?

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Thank you all for your thoughtful answers. We have had caregivers since December to manage her meds and meals during the day, and to take her to appointments, shopping, etc. but it's becoming apparent that she will need more care soon. I calculated the cost of 24 hr home care vs memory care in a lovely facility near her home, and her money would go farther in a memory care facility - and she would have plenty of company. She's a very social person, but her social life is suffering, because her friends can only do so much at this point. I will share your answers with my brother and SIL when they come down at the end of the month. Thank you again for your help!
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Mthr has been in memory care 4 years. She was able to pace all night if she wanted. I gave her lots of pretty boxes and golfers for her to file things in, and she hid all sorts of things in them. She stole utensils from the cafe, and lost her sweaters in her friends' rooms. She had freedom which she wanted, socialization with other people, and activities with social workers and church people. Every thing she wanted was in the same place, and she never had to make lunch, wash clothes, or mop. Heavenly for her!
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I agree with BMC. The best place for a Mother is home with a loving daughter. I stayed with my Mother 24 x 7 in her I.L. Apartment for 2 years. My brother and sister-in-law were afraid of my influence over Mother. They got 1/4 of her estate in 2008 under a pretense of a 5 year look-back to extract money before the government could claim it if and when she runs out of money for her care. They wanted Mother in Personal Care away from me. Also a rogue cousin has a group that plays music at a round of senior facilities. He stepped in and prevented me from bringing Mother home when she was being abused by negligent and intentional acts moving Mother from her I.L. apartment to Personal Care and he otherwise gave sympathy to the facility when they tried to block Mother from changing her health care directive and revoking her DNR making me her POA of Health Care leaving all the decisions up to me. PC was a nightmare with medication failures leading to Charles Bonnet syndrome - visual hallucinations for lack of giving Glaucoma eye drops as ordered, falls - loss of balance and mental confusion, sexual harassment by a maintenance man, failure to provide a physician while Mother was in Health Care leaving her with pnemonia, untreated, it goes on and on. I was the scapegoat. We moved mother to a nicer facility, in Assisted Living. Still myself and family are with Mother, by her side so that she does not fall. This is a wonderful facility, doing everything right, but still residents fall. I am uncomfortable leaving Mother other family comes in to be with her. With the weather warming she will be able to go food shopping, etc with me. This facility also permits home visits. That is nice for the experience of the warmth of a home with lots of love but still we have the conveniences of 3 meals a day, Nurses giving medications, planned activities, having meals with other residents, sing-a-longs, bible study, etc. After paying a fortune at Mother's old facility for private duty nurses aides after she was injured again and again as described above, my brother has new respect for my contribution of care for my Mother. My last exchange with my cousin was at lunch with Mother and son at an Eat'n Park after he returned from a ski trip at his condo in Aspen. He wants his group to play at my Mother's 100 th birthday party. We have made other plans. I am afraid he is going to create problems here. He is a bitter, cranky old man and because of his wealth and desire to be in control he is blind to what part he played in my Mothers suffering and set-backs at the old facility. He says I am too argumentative. What a disapointment he is. Mother and I like the new facility but if he interferes and makes trouble regarding the arrangements we have with the facility I do not think she will be safe. Providing 24 x 7 Care for Mother at a facility by the family has got Mother gaining in her health, memory and enjoyment of life. If anyone else can negotiate this, I strongly recommend it. I think Mother can attend a life care group at Church with me. We can seek support and prayer there. I am so afraid of the trouble my cousin can bring. He is bitter. We have a good thing going here without any negativity. Try spending more time with your parents in facilities. They can have the best of all worlds.
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As you know the Alzheimer's will worsen, perhaps the best solution is an NH.
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Right now is as good as any because it gets worse. My mom does the same thing and it drives me nuts! I recently brought my mother to live with me because of her living situation. The place was dirty, bugs everywhere, clothes dirty and she was not bathing. I had no ideal the problem with her was so severe until I received a phone call from a friend that was visiting with her. When I arrived there and saw what I did a feeling of guilt and sorrow overcame me. Even now it's difficult for me but I must work and still assist her. We don't understand what it's like to lose our memory but witnessing it we know it's not a good place to be. So help her now, even if it doesn't get better.
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That will depend on how bad her Alzheimer's is.
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When is memory care appropriate? From what you describe, I would say NOW. If she is living alone, she could be in danger - wandering, being taken advantage of, injuring herself, etc.
What you describe sounds like what our mother went through. We started with taking the car away - that went over nasty! When I finally convinced my brothers that she needed help, she was in the repetitive conversations, either in person or more likely by phone. We got a pill dispenser, brought in nurse aides for an hour to start to check on her, plan to increase later, and put in cameras. The aides only lasted a few months before she refused them (and would NOT agree to move anywhere, either with brothers or AL). When she started digging into old papers, that did it for me - I had one brother take her somewhere for the day and cleaned out all papers and banking (checks, statements, ALL of it). Meanwhile, we were already on her bank account, so I changed the address to mine (so even when she tried to reorder checks for bills that slipped through, they came to me), temporarily forwarded her mail to me so that I could change all bills to come to me (NOTE: this will not work for government paperwork, such as SS - USPS won't forward them and the gov't services do NOT care about POA - still working on those issues!). Cameras showed she started the sun-downing thing - repetitive checking the door, lock, dishwasher, LR lights and repeat, for about 1-1.5 hours. We finally agreed she needed to go to a safe place. While we were working this out, she fell once and bruised her knee - we only found out about it because one brother stopped by for something. The second injury was just before we were moving her - cellulitis, which is dangerous for anyone, never mind a 93 yo! She didn't even have enough sense to call us or seek help. The neighbor reported it one day, other brother arrived next night to prep for move - this delayed the move and it took many weeks and a second round of antibiotics for that to heal! It also delayed her move-in by 2-3 days. In addition to not having enough sense to address this wound, she cannot even tell us how it happened!

So, again, if she is living alone, she either needs full-time supervision or to move to a safe location, either with a family member who can be there all the time (not working) or better yet memory care which is about the safest (be sure to check multiples out and look online for reviews!). There are all kinds and different arrangements (some require big bucks up front and those are NOT used to pay the monthly fees, some are for profit, so the care may not be the best). It took her at least a month, maybe a little more, to stop with the "I gotta get outta here" and calls to my brother to take her home... she seems to have adjusted...

Also, others have touched on it - moving multiple times can be very hard on someone with dementia. Taking care of someone with dementia is not easy and will only get more difficult. I knew I could not physically take care of her, and read enough in the year+ prior to the move to know that I would not even know HOW to handle her - they DO know (if it is a decent place). So think long and hard before taking her into your home, only to have to move her later.

Additionally, if you have not already gone the elder attorney route, start NOW! They can set up everything to protect any assets your mom has (home, savings, investments, etc), because if she does not have enough for a private memory care place, she would have to find a nursing home that provides memory care and apply for medicaid, which will drain most assets quickly. Elder attorney (or online lookup) can explain all that better!
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By the time my mom was calling me (frequently) and then forgetting she had called, she had been in assisted living for four years. She was no longer handling her checkbook and was well into "reorganizing". Within three months the facility suggested she move to the memory care wing. It sounds like your mom might be OK in AL for now, but if you don't want to face another move in the near future you might want to consider memory care.
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When I was not getting any sleep because my spouse did not sleep I knew it was time. He emptied the closet every night and was always looking for his suitcase so he could be taken to the air field and go back to work. Of course he no longer remembered any of the family. When my health started to get worse the doctor said "it's time" and it was. Tough, expensive but better for all.
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I think the first question to consider, is she safe living alone? And have you thought of bringing in an in-home care provider to help her with her daily activities, such as housework, shopping, etc.?
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