The aging journey is full of changes. When it comes to caring for a senior loved one with dementia, these changes only accelerate — and are often more sudden and unpredictable. When thinking about memory care or other senior living options, national dementia care educator Teepa Snow notices a common trend: Families typically begin their search later than she’d recommend.
Families and caregivers often think they can provide everything on their own, until they reach a breaking point, says Snow. Planning ahead as much as possible can help prevent stress and conflict, as well as preserve both caregiver mental health and senior safety.
In this “Ask the Dementia Expert” episode, Snow pinpoints signs senior living is the next step for your senior loved one. Read highlights below or watch the full, 10-minute video.
Teepa Snow: So, some questions to ask: How are you feeling about yourself? How are you feeling about the person you’re supporting? How are you feeling about how your life is going?
How are you feeling about the amount of sleep and rest you’re getting? How are you feeling about the other aspects of your life that you’re responsible for? How about the person you’re supporting? Are they enjoying being with you?
Take a pause and realize this is a possible “when,” not “if.” When we need more support than I alone can offer, what is that going to look like? There’s staying in the space and getting help there, or moving and getting help there.
Am I going to stay or am I going to go? And if I’m going to stay, what’s going to need to change here for me to feel the right support? Or, if I’m going to go somewhere, what’s that going to look like?
The idea that as we age, or as we change, we might need a different place of care or a different kind of care. It’s probably going to change several times. Aging in place is a very difficult thing to do if we don’t do a lot of advanced planning. Look for a place that has options.
I give it three categories: people, programming, and place. What’s the training like? Is it hands-on training, where they have skill-building? Do we have people who seem to be actively engaged with folks?
Look at volunteers. Look at activities. There should be a variety of things going on, because there are a variety of abilities and interests. Be curious. Not judgmental, but be curious. How invited do you feel? How involved do you feel?
Kara Lewis is a content writer at A Place for Mom. She’s worked in writing, editing, and creative strategy for several years, most recently at Andrews McMeel Universal, Hallmark, and Gannett Media. Her writing has appeared in Bustle, Alma, and The Kansas City Star, among other outlets. She has won awards for digitally conscious journalism, investigative reporting, magazine writing, and poetry.