Conversations with Dementia: What About Memory Care?

Cotter House Worthington

In this series, we will be discussing different aspects of talking about dementia from the first talk you might have with a loved one, to speaking with a doctor, to how to speak with someone who has dementia in a dignified manner.

If you have been caring for a loved one, you may have considered having your loved one stay in a community built to care for those suffering from dementia. This is a difficult decision and one that requires some different discussions, some of them internal, to decide what is best for you and your loved one.

How do I know if it’s right for my loved one?

This is one of the first questions you may ask as you are considering this form of care. We want you to understand what to think about when asking this question. Remember, you know your loved one better than anyone else and your instincts on the matter are probably better than anyone else’s.

Consider the level of care that your loved one needs. Talk to their doctor about the symptoms (provided you have a release to be able to talk to your loved one’s doctor) about what they need. Once you have this information, you can decide whether you have the means and time to give them the form of care that your doctor recommends. This includes discussing with your family members what the time constraints would be, who would be able to be at home, are there times when no one would be able to be home, and do you have access to the types of things your loved one would need. Choosing to care for a loved one on your own can be a stressful time and changes a lot of things for you in your home that need to be discussed before you decide to undertake such a difficult process.

How do I choose a community?

Do your research! Look up the various communities that are in your area. Take the time to visit and have conversations with the staff about what their facility is like. Talking to staff can be an invaluable space for you to find out where is most comfortable for you to leave your loved one. Remember, it’s not just about where is going to take care of your loved one best, but also where you feel the most confident that they will be cared for if they stay. Your comfort is just as important as the comfort of your loved one.

You are also usually welcome to bring your loved one to the facility and let them experience the community for themselves. Depending on the progression of your loved one’s dementia, this can be a great way for them to be a part of the conversation and help make the decision for themselves. Giving your loved one agency in the conversation about where to stay can be a powerful moment and help preserve dignity.

“Remember, you know your loved one better than anyone else and your instincts on the matter are probably better than anyone else’s”

What if the facility I want is far away?

Sometimes, families find communities that they feel are perfect for their loved one, but it would require hours of driving, or even flights, to get them there. In general, this comes down to personal preference. However, we tend to believe it’s better for your loved one to stay closer to you if the option closer to you is satisfactory. Often, being able to visit is helpful for your loved one as they can become more comfortable in spaces when seeing familiar people. It can also add to your peace of mind to be able to see your loved one regularly and know they are doing well. If this is a decision you are battling with, have conversations with your family about your options and have a conversation with the community that is far away about what it might look like.

These are just a few of the conversations for you to think about as you consider whether your loved one should come to a community built to care for them. It’s a big decision for your family and it is ok to take your time to figure out what is best. As always, if you ever need more guidance, feel free to get in touch with us. We are always here to help you have the conversations you need to have to make the best decision for you and your loved one.