Dementia expert and occupational therapist Teepa Snow talks with Joan Lunden about dementia stages, caregiver stress, when it’s time for memory care, and how to help your parent adjust to a new home. Read excerpts or watch the 22-minute video with Snow.
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Joan Lunden: What are the signs it’s time to start thinking about assisted living or memory care for your loved one?
Teepa Snow: One of the tricky parts is by the time most family members are willing to ask the question, “When is it time?” the answer is: “Three months ago.” Usually families struggle and they work really hard to keep something going that hasn’t really been working for at least three months before they’ll finally admit, “I just can’t do this anymore.”
Should you look for memory-care specific or should you look for an assisted living facility that offers support for dementia care?
You should be looking for somebody to help you, rather than trying to do this on your own. … With a layperson, just like dementia’s overwhelming, the options for care in dementia are truly overwhelming. And they’re confusing because you look at something and think, “This would be great,” because you’re looking at your mom as she was.
Yeah, 10 years ago.
Yeah, it’s just natural to be a kid or a spouse and want the person to be how they were. It’s really important to have somebody to be with you to say …“OK, so tell me what she’s doing now.”
To be in independent living, you really need to be able to come and go and navigate buildings or dining areas. Does she have any trouble with wayfinding?
And then when you go to assisted living, that’s still a level of independence. You’ve got to be able to get from place to place — or you’re going to have to pay for somebody to do that in addition. So then we go to memory care, but all memory cares are not equal.
You know that this person needs specialized care from people who are trained, but it’s still tough.
It is, because you forget how to be the daughter. You’re so busy being the care provider and the supporter. You don’t realize how many hats you have on, and how exhausted you’re getting.
Kim Acosta is managing editor at A Place for Mom. She’s produced digital and print content for more than 20 years as an editorial leader at Shape magazine, P&G, Hallmark, and others. Her work has appeared in national media outlets including Family Circle, Parents, Lifescript, BuzzFeed, Living Fit, Natural Health, WorkingMother.com, and HomeCare.