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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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Things I considered before placing my Mom in memory care:
Alternatives that were available
Costs vs her assets
Services offered by each facility I toured (8 in all) vs her needs
Location for family convenience
My Mom was sundowning and walking ALL over her independent living facility at all hours of the night. That was an eye opener! I brought in 24 hour care. (Previously I had companion services for 5 hours a day.)
Ultimately, she fell (with the aide nearby watching!) and needed hospitalization, surgery and rehab. After that I moved her to memory care.
In hindsight, I still feel that all of the moves were at the appropriate time and that I tried to preserve both her independence and assets. Memory care is expensive but it did give me the peace of mind that she wouldn't be wandering the streets and the place I chose had activities all day long. Even if she didn't appear to be participating, at least she was with others and hearing human interaction.
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I am a Program Director for a Memory Care facility.
It is a wonderful place where the residents have great care and love from the staff. Please don't feel bad about placing Mom. She will thrive there.
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I agree with Emleten. I have a friend who had to go this route and she says her mother is very settled in the Memory Care facility.
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I'd seek the services of a professional assessment. I'd inquire about what support your mom needs with her daily activities as well as what Assisted Living facilities can provide in your state. Keeping in mind that the level of care that she needs may change over time as she progresses.

My LO initially went into a regular AL, but, she soon progressed to the point where regular AL was not really equipped to handle her needs. Plus, she began to wander and needed Secure Memory Care.

Have you toured any facilities to see what is available in her area? I'd question what is out there and if they can meet her needs. Some things that I would look for is how much support the regular AL can provide as opposed to a Memory Care unit. Some people are okay to get a reminder to go to the dining room for dinner, but, others forget where they going on the way and have to have constant reminding and supervision. It's a lot to consider.
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If she can afford fill-time at-home care, that would keep her safe and out of trouble. But that is horrendously expensive. Most people with dementia cannot live at home alone. Without full-time care at home, it is time for your mom to be in a care facility. Sunnygirl and geewiz have given good suggestions for deciding what level of care is suitable.

If Mom wanders she will need a secure environment. If her behavior will be very disruptive to other residents, that is also a constraint. Otherwise you have options to consider.
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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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My Dad went into Assisted Living/Memory Care from Independent Living once he was showing signs of "sundowning", and was falling a lot. He was quite happy there.
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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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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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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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